Friday, October 23, 2020
44th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars


   How Ford’s Next-Gen Test Vehicle Lays the Foundation for Our Self-Driving Business

J. Davis, Oct 20, “Launching a self-driving service is complex. Many different pieces need to come together to create a trusted and scalable self-driving service that provides value to customers and the cities they operate in. At Ford, we are taking a thoughtful approach to how we bring together all these pieces to help shape the future of self-driving vehicles. One important part of this service is the vehicle, which will allow us to stand up our self-driving business.
Meet the Fourth Generation Self-Driving Test Vehicle: Beginning to roll out this month, Ford and Argo AI‘s fourth-generation self-driving test vehicles are built on the Escape Hybrid platform and feature the latest advancements in sensing and computing technology. The Escape Hybrid is also the architecture and platform we have chosen to use to bring our autonomous vehicle service online…..” Read more  Hmmmm….  See video.  Impressive. Listen/watch  SmartDrivingCars PodCast / ZoomCast with John Rich. CNBC’s take as well as The Detroit News.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 180  w/John Rich, Ford/Argo, part 2

F. Fishkin, Oct. 15, “Ford and Argo AI have unveiled their next generation self-driving test vehicle. Once again, Ford’s Director of Autonomous Vehicle and Technology Development John Rich joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin to unveil the technology and the company’s self driving business plans.”  Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars  Zoom-Cast Episode 180  w/John Rich, Ford/Argo, part 2

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 180...  Alain 

   The SmartDrivingCars eLetter, Pod-Casts, Zoom-Casts and Zoom-inars are made possible in part by support from the Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO.   For more information:  Most funding is supplied by Princeton University’s Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering and Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE) research laboratory as part of its research dissemination initiatives.

  Autonomous fleet of six Ford Mondeos are driving themselves around the streets of Oxford to test the abilities of driverless cars

R. Morrison, Oct. 23, “A fleet of six self-driving Ford Mondeos are navigating the streets of Oxford in all hours and all weathers to test the abilities of driverless cars as part of a new trial.  Technology firm Oxbotica, spun out of an Oxford University project, retrofitted the vehicles which are making repeated nine-mile round trips within the city several times per day until March 2021.  A dozen cameras, three Lidar sensors and two radar sensors are used to put the car at ‘level 4 autonomy’, meaning it can handle almost all situations itself….”  Read more  Hmmmm…. The operative words are…”almost all.”.  We have been at “almost all”  for some time now with “almost” getting bigger.  The fundamental question remains: how big does almost need to become, in the eyes of the individuals that are responsible for transforming the technology from an academic project with real-time driver/attendant oversight (whose value is information put on a shelf) to accepting the responsibility of pulling the driver/attendant thus enabling the provision of affordable, high-quality, many-to-many, on-demand, mobility for all within some non-trivial Operational Desgin Domain (ODD)?  In other words: how big does almost need to be to get sufficient “yes” votes from the decision makers to go fully driverless (without cheating) when it is clear that those voting yes will be deemed to be fully responsible for everything bad that happens.  Seems as if those responsible at Waymo have decided that almost is big enough in the Operational Design Domain encompassing Chandler, AZ.  Elon hasn’t accepted that responsibility for FSD, so almost isn’t big enough for FSD.  What will it take for Oxbotica to decide that almost is big enough in the ODD encompassing “the streets of Oxford”??? Alain

  First look at Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta and it looks just insane

F. Lambert, Oct. 22,  “….As expected, the new update enables turns on city streets and links to Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot features, delivering a virtually feature-complete self-driving system that drivers need to constantly monitor.

Tesla is very clear in the release notes of the Full Self-Driving Beta update that it can be dangerous if not monitored properly:

“Full Self-Driving is in early limited access Beta and must be used with additional caution. It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road. Do not become complacent.” 

…”  Read more Hmmmm…  The operative words here are..”you must always“!  Which means that there is nothing “full” about this self-driving (unless it is “Full Stupid-driving“).  It remains partial!!!!.  It doesn’t become “Full” until Elon declares “I take full responsibility if anything bad happens while you are using “whatever he wishes to call it”.  For it to be “full” Elon must accept the responsibility that nothing bad happens each tme it takes you from your favorite watering hole to your driveway.  Else, both you and ELon get the DWI! Alain

  Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta: a collection of video demonstrations by early testers

F. Lambert, Oct. 232,  “Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is starting to reach more cars in the fleet and customers, which are basically being used as testers, are starting to share video demonstrations.

Here we share a few of them for a better look at Tesla’s FSD Beta….”  Read more Hmmmm… watch the videos as we all hold our breath.  Who will be the first Tesla owner to be irresponsible and mis-behave by stop paying attention?  Alain

Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta test has caught the attention of federal safety regulators

A. Hawkins, Oct. 16, “Federal regulators are keeping their eye on the rollout of Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” experiment. This week, the automaker began beta testing its latest advanced driver assist software with a select group of customers, and so far, the government is taking a wait-and-see approach.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would “monitor the new technology closely and will not hesitate to take action to protect the public against unreasonable risks to safety.” The statement also included some footnoting of Tesla’s decision to describe its driver assist feature as “self-driving” (emphasis ours): …” Read more Hmmmm… Elon MUST held responsible should for each and every bad thing that happens.  If nothing bad happens, then I’m going to have a lot of crow to eat.  See also Andrew’s :Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ beta is here, and it looks scary as hell.  Alain

  Tesla stock climbs after hours after company posts record profit and says it will sell half a million cars this year

C. Insidore, Oct. 21, “Tesla reported by far its best quarterly profit Wednesday and said it still hopes to hit its target of half a million car sales this year.

The strong results and ambitious goal were good news to investors in the high-flying stock, which has gained more than 400% so far this year. Shares of Tesla (TSLA) climbed once again in after-hours trading on the earnings report.
There had been doubts that Tesla could achieve its goal of delivering 500,000 cars to customers this year, given the shutdown of its plant in Fremont California, earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic ordered by local health authorities. It has delivered 319,000 cars in the first three quarters of this year…” Read more  Hmmmm…. Congratulations. See also Russ Mitchell… Tesla scores a profit for the fifth straight quarter  Alain


White paper, Oct 2020, “Most new vehicles sold in 2018 (56%) had, as either a standard or optional feature, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) equipped with Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB).1 However, current testing protocols implemented by safety organizations and programs, such as Euro NCAP, NCAP, and IIHS largely do not evaluate the performance of PAEB in dark conditions without streetlights. This is true despite data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) showing that more pedestrian fatalities occur in dark conditions without streetlights than in daylight conditions. Additionally, independent tests conducted by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association (AAA) reveal that, in every scenario considered, PAEB systems frequently fail to protect pedestrians in dark conditions. …”   Read more  Hmmmm…. Interesting.  Alain

Are Electric Cars the Future?

K. Clark, Feb. 15, “Electric cars have burst in to the car industry within the past decade now representing over a 5% market share in Britain. Huge strides have been made in technological advancement in this time, which is making electric cars more and more affordable however, are they really the future?…”  Read more  Hmmmm….  FYI… One view from Britain. Alan


    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Dec. 8 through Dec. 10, 2020 (But will likely need to be completely Virtual, possibly in “Second life)

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:s

Postponed, to be Virtual, Evening Dec. 8 -> Dec.10.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side