Friday, April 3, 2020
15th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Via raises Series E financing to expand access to efficient, sustainable, and equitable public mobility across the globe

Press release, Mar. 30, "Via, the company that provides digital infrastructure to power public mobility in cities around the world, announces today that it has raised a Series E financing led by EXOR. The financing values the company at $2.25B and will enable Via to advance its vision of efficient, accessible, and equitable public mobility. 

Via’s technology powers the next generation of public transportation, helping cities move beyond a system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic network. Via’s algorithm efficiently combines, in real time, multiple passengers or packages headed in the same direction, significantly reducing urban congestion and emissions while providing a high quality and lower cost mobility service. Available in more than 70 cities in 20 countries, and growing rapidly…"  Read more Hmmmm… Ride-sharing may not be dead.  Listen to PodCast 150, watch VideoCast 150 Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 150 – Andrei Greenawalt

F. Fishkin, April 3, "Coronavirus devastates transportation and mobility. How does it recover? Matthew Daus, former NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman, joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that and much more. Watch,  subscribe, and find us at!"   "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

Smart Driving Cars VideoCast Episode 150 – Andrei Greenawalt

Video version… Watch episode 150 with Andrei Greenawalt.  Alain

  Tesla soars on delivery numbers — company delivered 88,400 vehicles in Q1

L. Kolodny, April 2, "Tesla reported on Thursday that it delivered approximately 88,400 vehicles in the first quarter of 2020, beating expectations. Analysts had expected about 79,900 as of Wednesday, according to a survey by FactSet.

Tesla stock rose more than 17% after hours on the news.  Breaking it down by model, Tesla reported combined deliveries of 76,200 Model 3 sedans and Model Y cross-over SUVs, and combined deliveries of 12,200 of the older and more expensive Model S and X vehicles. …"  Read more Hmmmm…  Wow!!! I guess the Shanghai plant is really humming!  Congratulations! It is a shame that more of these cars aren’t being built in the US of A.  Alain

  Engineer Says Uber Owes Him $180 Million for Run-In With Google

J. Rosenblatt, April 1, "A star Silicon Valley engineer who defected from Google to Uber Technologies Inc. — only to be fired, tagged as the villain in a trade-secret theft dispute and driven into bankruptcy — says the ride-sharing company owes him more than $180 million for travails and lost time.

Anthony Levandowski, hailed by both companies as a prodigy of driverless car technology, contends Uber didn’t keep its promise to cover his legal bills when it aggressively recruited him in 2016. Google later accused Levandowski of poaching its engineers in violation of his contract and clawed back a $120 million bonus it had paid him, plus about $60 million in interest and attorneys fees.

In his arbitration demand against Uber, Levandowski says he was warned by none other than Larry Page that he’d face “negative consequences” if he left to compete with Google. But he was reassured by Uber’s agreement to indemnify him against Google’s anticipated retribution, and Uber paid for his defense for almost three years.

Until, that is, Google won. Levandowski says that in April 2018, days before the final hearing in Google’s arbitration, Uber told him it wanted to be repaid…"  Read more Hmmmm…Is this a April Fool’s joke; although, Uber likely does owe him. Details do matter in contracts; although, Anthony better collect quickly.    🙂 Alain

  Special Report: Impact of COVID19 on California Traffic Accidents

F. Shilling, April 1, "… We estimate that since the order went into effect, collisions and especially injury and fatality collisions have been reduced by half, from ~1,000 collisions and ~400 injury/fatal accidents per day to 500 and 200 per day, respectively. We also found that animal-related incidents did not experience the same reduction. We found that traffic volumes were up to 60% lower on certain highways after the order compared to a similar period prior to the order, which may account for the reduced number of collisions…."  Read more Hmmmm…Must be even greater reduction in NJ because there seems to be no one on the roads.  Small silver lining along with substantial reduction in CO2 from reduced consumption of gasoline.  Glad that the trucks are still moving because store shelves need to be filled; else, it gets really UGLY!!! Alain

  Tesla is shipping FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals around the world for free during the coronavirus pandemic

B. Gilbert, April 1, "Tesla is offering to pay for and ship a crucial medical component being used in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

CEO Elon Musk announced as much on Tuesday: "We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse," he said …. "  Read more Hmmmm…  In December, I was sedated and strapped down with a ventilator down my throat for 11 days.  It saved my life.  Thank you,  Elon.  These are going to save lives.  Alain

  Public Transit Cuts Hurt ‘Essential’ Workers Who Need It Most

A. Marshall, Mar. 30, "…To protect its workers and conserve supplies, Metro has closed 19 of its 91 stations until further notice, without providing shuttle buses to fill in the gaps….

“Essential” workers who are still toiling at grocery stores, drug stores, and health care facilities face the same dilemma. Los Angeles has cut bus service by 15 to 20 percent and is running fewer trains. The Bay Area’s BART system has seen ridership plunge by 90 percent compared with this time last year, and has cut three hours of night service amidst a projected $25 million monthly loss. New York City’s MTA has modified its schedule. The agency that runs Seattle’s buses is cutting service and has stopped collecting fares to reduce interactions between workers and riders.

Smaller systems, like the ones in Great Falls, Montana, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, have canceled service altogether …"  Read more Hmmmm… As if conventional public transit wasn’t a complete mess before this pandemic.  If this doesn’t motivate conventional transit to embrace driverless on-demand shared ride mobility then Transit should use this opportunity to simply disappear gracefully.  Big, bulky, inflexible and labor intensive are not good attributes to have for any business.  Alain

  Tesla becomes the best-selling car brand in Iceland

F. Lambert, April 1, "There have been Tesla vehicles in Iceland for years, but the automaker officially launched in the market in September of last year and now Tesla has already become the best-selling car brand in the country.  Iceland is perfect for massive adoption of electric vehicles. The island’s electricity generation is already almost 100% renewable, which makes EVs super clean, and being a remote island, petrol is expensive."  Read more Hmmmm…  Also, there is no range anxiety in Iceland… Not far to go…  Can this also be an April Fool’s joke?  🙂  Alain  

  Recent trends in gasoline prices

M. Sivak, April 2, "This brief note analyzes the changes in the price of gasoline during the first 13 weeks of 2020 and compares them with the changes during the first 13 weeks of 2019. The raw data (the average retail price of regular gasoline) came from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The results are shown in the table below….

During the first 13 weeks of 2020, the price of gasoline decreased by 22.2% (from $2.578 to $2.005). Furthermore, during this time of the year, gasoline prices typically (but not always) tend to go up because of the usual increase in driving in the spring compared with driving in the winter. As an example, the above table also includes the analogous data for the first 13 weeks of 2019. Indeed, during the same time period in 2019, gasoline prices increased by 20.3%. Thus, in comparison with the trend in 2019, gasoline prices during the first 13 weeks of 2020 decreased by 35% (77.8 is 65% of 120.3)…."  Read more Hmmmm…  A very tiny silver lining, but a silver lining all the same.  Alain

  It took a coronavirus outbreak for self-driving cars to become more appealing

S. Lekach, April 1, "Suddenly, a future full of self-driving cars isn’t just a sci-fi pipe dream. What used to be considered a scary, uncertain technology for many Americans looks more like an effective tool to protect ourselves from a fast-spreading, infectious disease.

With COVID-19 — the name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus — keeping most of us housebound, it’s harder to get around or bring in supplies safely. Forget about socializing, just stocking up on groceries, toiletries, and basic medicines and products is a risky challenge. Suddenly having robots and computers help us out doesn’t seem so far-fetched. All that money that’s been funneled into testing self-driving cars — $27.5 billion in 2018, according to data company Statista — is starting to look more and more worthwhile…."  Read more Hmmmm… Probably deserves being in ClickBait or is this another April Fool’s joke?   Alain

  Underwriters Laboratories publishes autonomous vehicle Standard

Press release, April 1, "ANSI/UL 4600 Standard for Safety for the Evaluation of Autonomous Products encompasses fully autonomous systems that move such as self-driving cars, along with applications in mining, agriculture, maintenance, and other vehicles including lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It seeks to specifically address the ability of autonomous products to perform safely and as intended- without human intervention- based on their current state and sensing of the operating environment. Reliability of hardware and software necessary for machine learning, sensing of operating environment and other safety aspects of autonomy is also addressed. It is envisioned that future end-product standards will tailor UL 4600 to address specialized applications…."  Read more Hmmmm…, not another "SAE" standards organization charging for the documentation for their standards developed by ???? Where is Washington when you need it?  Or is this April fools!! 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



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