Tuesday, March 31, 2020
14th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Society of Actuaries Research Brief Impact of COVID-19

D. Hall, Mar 25, "… The result in late March 2020 has been one where a confluence of risks has come together. Additional operational and financial risks may emerge as additional events compound on the current situation. Actuaries will be watching for any additional risk events that layer on to the current environment, especially ones that may cause additional property, mortality and health risks such as catastrophic weather events. Morbidity, mortality, asset/liability management and operational risks are all a part of the initial and evolving story. This update to the Society of Actuaries Research Brief has been constructed to highlight some of the key continuing and new features of the pandemic all around the world and contemplate the risks for the actuarial profession to consider in their work…"   Read more Hmmmm… This is one of the best reports that I have seen and will be updated  every 10 days or so.   A good summary of the materials, podcasts and other good sources are here:

ECDPC Daily data

GitHub Covid19 data

Cases of COVID-19


  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 149 – Matt Daus

F. Fishkin, Mar. 26, "The Smart Driving Cars podcast with automated driving strategy consultant Richard Bishop joining Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Is automated trucking dead? Also…Covid-19 puts Waymo in park, the latest on Tesla and more. listen and subscribe!"   "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 149 – Matt Daus

Video version… Watch episode 149 with Matt Daus.  Alain

  Transportation Companies Can Apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) & Emergency EIDL Grants as part of The CARES Act!

M. Daus, Mar. 28, "As a follow-up to our reporting on the assistance available to transportation companies, the CARES Act expands eligibility for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The EIDLs had previously only been open to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Now, under the CARES Act, EIDLs are available to any business with not more than 500 employees, operating under a sole proprietorship or as an independent contractor, tribal businesses, cooperatives and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees, all non-profit organizations, and individuals operating as sole proprietors or independent contractors…" Read more Hmmmm… Some of this money may actually help small transportation/mobility/logistics businesses.  Hear/Watch PodCast 149 with Matt Daus.  Alain

  1st Step towards Autonomous Trucking & Platooning

K. Pyle, Mar. 27, "Two former Carnegie Mellon faculty members, who happen to be brothers, discuss how they are taking a pragmatic approach of adding automation to long-haul trucking. Their company, Locomation, upgrades an existing big rig by replacing the side-view mirrors with a module that includes a mirror, lidar, radar, camera sensors, and radios.

This suite of sensors feeds a computer running their software stack. Their system and service allow trucking companies to field a two-truck platoon. Their initial target market is time-sensitive, long-haul applications where trucking companies normally employ two drivers for a single truck with minimal stops (one sleeps while the other drives)…"  Read more Hmmmm… Also watch Ken Pyle’s interview. Alain

  Coming Tesla Autopilot Update To Include Auto-Stopping At Red Lights & Stop Signs (Leaked Video)

Z. Shahan, Mar. 27, "…Apparently, according to Out of Spec Motoring and a video its Twitter account shared, the next Tesla Autopilot update will provide one huge bridge between those two steps. It will give your car the superpower of stopping at red lights and stop signs by itself…"  Read more Hmmmm… Great, but don’t rely on it because you are still responsible!!! If it doesn’t work and you run a red and get T-boned, then it’s your life that you lose!   What is great is: if you are clueless, it may keep you from inadvertently running a red,… not getting T-boned and not losing your life.  🙂 See video  Alain

Exor Makes $200 Million Investment in Ride-Share Company Via

C. Lombardo, Mar 30, "Exor NV, the holding company of Italy’s Agnelli family, is investing in ride-share company Via Transportation Inc. that would mark its first big foray into the technology sector.

Exor said Monday it is investing $200 million in New York-based Via. The investment would give Exor just under a 9% stake in Via and would value Via at $2.25 billion. Via had last been valued at roughly $1 billion in late 2017, according to Pitchbook…." Read more Hmmmm… This is really good news, maybe the only good news, in the ride-sharing space given the physical distancing mandate.  There may still behope for ride-sharing once we get through all of this physical distancing.  Alain

  GM Planning to Put Super Cruise on at Least 22 More Models

P. Eisenstein, Mar. 29, "…Super Cruise launched in 2017 on the Cadillac CT6. While that big sedan is going away, GM has plans to add the hands-free system to Caddy’s CT4 and CT5 sedans, as well as the totally redone Escalade SUV for the 2021 model year. In 2022, it will be offered for the first time through other GM brands, starting with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. The big blitz comes in 2023 when it will roll out on 22 models, with more likely to follow, company officials have confirmed….

About 30 percent of Caddy CT6 buyers have shelled out the $2,500 for the option. Meanwhile, 85 percent of those who have the system say they would prefer or only buy a vehicle with Super Cruise in the future.

GM recently increased the number of miles Super Cruise can operate on from 130,000 to 200,000. This coming year, meanwhile, it will gain the ability to change lanes simply by tapping the turn signal. And new products will add a rear-facing radar sensor to ensure the vehicle doesn’t pull out in front of fast-approaching traffic…. "  Read more Hmmmm… Since SuperCruise sells cars and provides up-sell revenue, why isn’t it being put in GM cars earlier.  Tesla wouldn’t wait around until 2023! Note GM is putting SuperCruise in Bolt even earlier because every day autoPilot sells Model 3s.  Alain

  New Rules Could Finally Clear the Way for Self-Driving Cars

A. Marshall, Mar. 26, "…The adjusted standards would nix some rules related to rider safety for autonomous vehicles that carry goods like groceries, but no people. They would address the protections needed when steering wheels and steering columns have gone the way of the dodo. They would reexamine how airbags might work in a car newly configured to drive itself, and consider barring children from the front left seat of a vehicle, where the steering wheel traditionally lives.

The rules would also clarify the definition of “driver,” which the agency has now decided it will not change within the standards. Instead, it will clarify within each mention whether “driver” refers to a fleshy human, or the advanced driver systems that might one day operate cars all on their own. This is a reversal for the safety agency, which said in 2016 that it would legally redefine “driver” to treat the Google self-driving system one…"  Read more Hmmmm… Now is probably the right time to do this.  We have to get something moving forward. Asking NHTSA for exemptions has been a rabbit hole.  It has granted a total of one.  Alain

  Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai makes 3,000 cars per week amid other factory shutdowns

F. Lambert, Mar. 27, "Tesla Gigafactory Shanghai is reportedly making 3,000 electric cars per week amid Tesla having to shut down its other factories.

As of Monday, Tesla was forced to shut down production at Fremont factory in California, where the automaker has produced almost all its vehicles for the past decade…

The automaker had a production capacity of about 2,000 vehicles per week prior to the shutdown.  Now a new report from 乌瓦, a Youtuber who has been tracking progress at the factory through drone videos and interviews with employees and locals, states that Tesla is now capable of producing 3,000 cars per week at the plant:…"  Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Is this a prelude to the losing of even more American jobs?  Alain  

  2020 Detroit Auto Show canceled as venue becomes a field hospital

J. Fingas, Mar.29, "Yet another major 2020 auto show has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although now it’s less about timing and more about supporting the current fight. Organizers have canceled the Detroit Auto Show (officially the North American International Auto Show) as its venue, the TCF Center, is being turned into a field hospital for coronavirus patients. The next show now won’t take place until June 2021, or over two and a half years after the last event…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Certainly not a surprise.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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 cites.  "… 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

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

Sunday Supplement


  Will this crisis help set autonomous AI on the right course?

B. Huang, Mar. 26, "he COVID-19 pandemic accelerates an automated future that’s already on its way. It serves as a wake-up call to all AI, robotics, and driverless car startups: stop building eye-dazzling demos and talking about the future possibility of general-use AI. Instead, focus on deploying real-world solutions that can run 24 hours a day with minimum human intervention and deliver true value to users.

Thousands of Americans have started to work from home amidst the current pandemic. Retailers have struggled with supply while nervous consumers are hoarding everything from toilet paper to hand soap. Across the globe, Chinese e-commerce giant JD began testing a level 4 autonomous delivery robot in Wuhan and running its automated warehouses 24 hours a day to cope with a surge in demand.

Suddenly, autonomous machines need to be better than just proof of concept. They must be robust enough to work independently across various real-life situations…."  Read more Hmmmm…I don’t buy it, nor the three areas.  Today we have no AI, it is really largely hype.  Data quality is key to everything, be they human intelligence or the artificial variety.  The pathetic quality of the data about what is happening today dominates what this crisis is telling us about the necessities of data quality.  We didn’t learn it in 2016 when the bad data led to forecasts that Hillary’s probability of winning was > 0.99.  The misuses and unknown biases, not just the noise, led to that "AI" debacle.  The same is even more true today.  Alain



Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side