Friday, March 26, 2021
12th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  Labor to DOT: Scrap Trump administration’s automated vehicles plan

J. Gallagher, March 24, “Two prominent labor unions want the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject the Trump administration’s automated vehicle (AV) strategy for relying too much on the viewpoint from industry without enough attention paid to potential damage to worker safety and jobs.

The 38-page Automated Vehicles Comprehensive Plan (AVCP), one of the last documents released for public comment by DOT under Secretary Elaine Chao before she left the administration in January, laid out the previous administration’s vision for integrating AVs – both cars and heavy trucks – into the U.S. transportation system.

The plan received 23 comments before the comment period closed on Tuesday, with trucking technology companies generally supporting the strategy and labor rejecting it.

“This document doubles down on the previous administration’s irresponsible, hands-off approach to AV deployment and regulation and mostly boosts the agency’s role as cheerleader and enabler rather than safety regulator,” wrote John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), which represents transit workers….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  One might suggest that TWU’s position is enormously short sighted.  Transit pre_Covid served 1% of the person-miles in the US.  That is a niche of a niche.  During Covid, almost anyone who could affords a car and didn’t have one, bought one. Transit ridership took an enormous hit. Even with enormous subsidy, Transit, especially bus transit, is hardly ever the “mode of choice” for anyone because its level-of-service is fundamentally poor. It serves relatively few locations, loosely connected by a route which delivers service only at infrequent fixed times.  Essentially no other consumer commodity today operates with so little regard to its customer’s real-time needs and desires.  Even network television has adapted to become demand-responsive as opposed to take-it-or-leave-it.

Conventional transit is labor intensive  because it needs a chauffeur for each vehicle and that chauffeur deserves nice working conditions and a living wage.  Unfortunately, the service that a chauffeur can deliver can’t attract enough customers to make that service a going concern.  However, an automated driver can arguably deliver demand-responsive service while having the total cost of its working conditions and level-of-effort be substantially less than a TWU driver.  This might let a Transit entity to actually develop a going concern that would serve 10x or more person-miles and create better paying and better working conditions for all TWU members.

More importantly, there is no downside for the TWU with these automated drivers.  If they aren’t substantially better than a TWU driver, they won’t be adopted by any Transit operator.  If they are, they’ll so improve the level-of-service that ridership will boom and there will be better jobs for all TWU members and more.  There is no downside here. All of this is in the TWU’s best interests.  Alain

Kornhauser & He, March 2021 AV 101 + Trenton Affordable HQ Mobility Initiative

Ken Pyle Session Summaries of 4th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:
12th Session    3/18/21 Human-centered Design of Safe and Affordable Driverless Mobility

11th Session    3/11/21  Incentivizing Through Regulation

10th Session    3/04/21  Incentivizing Through Insurance

9th Session    2/25/21  Can Level 3 be Delivered?

8th Session    2/18/21  Who Will Build, Sell and Maintain Driverless Cars?

    Michael Sena’s Slides, Glenn Mercer Slides

7th Session    2/11/21  Finally Doing It
6th Session    2/ 4/21   Safe Enough in the Operational Design Domain
5th Session    1/28/21   At the Tipping Point
4th Session    1/21/21  Why Customers are Buying Them

3rd Session    1/14/21  The SmartDrivingCars We Can Buy Today
2nd Session   1/ 7/21  A Look into the Future
1st Session: 12/17/20  Setting the Stage

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 205, Zoom-Cast Episode 205  w/Michael Sena; Editor The Dispatcher.  President, MLSena Consulting

F. Fishkin, March 15, “Every driverless car should take the same tests that we take..and have the same responsibilities.   So says Michael L. Sena in the latest edition of The Dispatcher.  He joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus the latest from Tesla and more…on Episode 205 of Smart Driving Cars…” Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain


4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

14th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

What Will Power Safely-driven Cars

The pros and cons from an economic and environmental perspective of different fuel sources for the future car fleet

noon ET, Thursday, April 1

Video Summary of 1st Session:  Setting the Stage

   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.

  Telematics Industry Insights

M. Sena, April 2013, “I may not make myself the most popular guy in the SAE crowd with my lead article, A Closer, Critical Look at Operational Design Domain (ODD). But I felt it was time that someone challenged the claim that you can define exactly where a robot can drive a car, and if it wanders outside of its ODD then its keeper is free from responsibilities.

Dispatch Central has a little bit for everyone. I report on the continuing saga of Volvo and Geely, the hot topic of the dearth of semiconductors bringing car production lines to a halt, and where one country is on putting up electric wires over its roadways.

One of the most significant pieces of standards production in now complete, the new UN Regulation No. 157 on Automated Lane Keeping. This should be mandatory reading for everyone working with highly-automated vehicles. I have tried to encapsulate its most important points in my summary of the Regulation.

Finally, in Musings of a Dispatcher, I reflect on where the oldest vehicle manufacturer, the one started by Messrs. Daimler and Benz, has been and where it might be headed.

I hope you will enjoy the issue, and, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what I have written.
Read more  Hmmmm…  I agree with Michael that the Operational Design Domain is THE critical element of any automated system.  Most importantly, the automation system need to know its own ODD.  It must be able to control its own operation to neither wander out of that domain when it is turned on and ensure that the automatic function is not “turn-on-able” when it is outside that domain.  Also, since in all cases, it operates in cooperation and at the direct insistence by its user, it must also ensure that its user is doing its part. 


Finally, the automated system must be certified by some independent entity, be it public and/or private, must take responsibility for doing that safely and must have the financial “where with all” to cover that responsibility: else, that product should not be in the public market place.   Alain


 R. Shields, 22 – 25 March, “Recordings from the conference:

Session 1 plus opening: (Regulatory):
Session 2: (Cybersecurity):
Session 3: (Automated Driving Systems):
Session 4: (Communications for ADS) :

Read more  Hmmmm…  Russ, thank you for sharing!  Alain

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple files to go public

K. Korosec, March 23, “TuSimple, the self-driving truck company that is backed by a diverse consortium of strategic investors, including Volkswagen AG’s heavy-truck business The Traton Group, Navistar, Goodyear, and freight company U.S. Xpress, filed Tuesday for an initial public offering.

TuSimple is taking the traditional path to going public, a departure from the recent trend — particularly among electric and autonomous vehicle startups — to merge with a special purpose acquisition companies.

The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined, according to the regulatory filing. TuSimple intends to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “TSP.” Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters for the proposed offering. .

.According to the company’s S-1, which was filed Tuesday, TuSimple has primarily financed its operations through the sale of redeemable convertible preferred stock and loans from stockholders. The company’s principal sources of liquidity were $310.8 million of cash and cash equivalents, exclusive of restricted cash of $1.5 million. Cash and cash equivalents consist primarily of cash on deposit with banks as well as certificates of deposit. …”  Read more  Hmmmm… Very nice that they are doing it the “old fashioned way”.   Be sure to read the S1.  Alain

Apple (AAPL) Patents a LIDAR System With a Waveform Design for the Apple Car

R. Saleem, March 25,  “… UBS analyst, David Vogt, stated in a recent investment note that Apple has now won a patent, titled “Waveform design for a LiDAR system with closely spaced pulses”. While delving into the specifics, the patent makes eight claims regarding the LIDAR, including the ability to detect objects where “distance to the target scene may range from tens of centimeters to hundreds of meters”. This development serves as a critical reminder that, despite the lack of any public acknowledgment, Apple continues to pursue critical differentiating systems for the Apple Car…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  This is likely to be just click-bait rather than substantive from Apple, especially concerning the objective “to offer high-quality mobility for all”.  Apple is in the business of offering “comfort & convenience ” to things that people own themselves.  So of the three “objectives” of automated driving technology Safely-driven cars, Self-driving cars, Driverless cars):, the first (Safety) is likely not in Apple’s sweet spot, the 2nd (Comfort & Convenience) certainly is, and the third (Mobility for all) is likely too tough.  Moreover, the road to Driverless may not pass through Self-driving because, as Elon may finally be realizing, there is an enormous quality and scope jump to get to driverless for consumers for which there is really very little incremental net benefit.   Alain

  Improved CL Training Essential as Trucker Fatalities Reach Highest Levels Since 1988

Press release, March 25, “A U.S. Department of Transportation report compiling crash data for 2019, the most recent year for which these figures are available, shows that fatalities for large-truck occupants have reached their highest level in more than 30 years.(1) This, notes John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, appears to be an ongoing trend; U.S. trucking fatalities for 2018 also exceeded a level not seen since 1988.(2) “The bulk of these fatal accidents,” says Kearney, “take place when a driver encounters something unexpected and makes a bad decision. The only way to make trucking safer is to improve truckers’ understanding of extreme situations through increased simulator training.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  And this was 2019.  What about what these truckers experienced during the pandemic.  Sure, they need better training, but they also need better Safely-driven and Comfort & Convenience SmarDrivingTruck systems, the topic of the Summit’s 13th Session this past week.  Alain

  If Tesla Knows When A Driver Isn’t Paying Attention, Why Doesn’t It Warn In The Moment?”

S.  Dhaliwal, March 24, ” Tesla Inc’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) in-car cameras for driver monitoring are a privacy concern, as per Consumer Reports.

What Happened: The New York-based nonprofit member organization said that the safety benefits of driver monitoring through the cameras are undermined by privacy concerns.

“If Tesla has the ability to determine if the driver isn’t paying attention, it needs to warn the driver at the moment, like other automakers already do,” according to Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto test center…” Read more  Hmmmm…  While driver monitoring may well be a “concern” to Consumer Reports, I’m sure that those concerns would be assuaged if the monitoring was limited to taking the automated driving toys away from the mis-behaving Tesla drivers in order to keep the rest of us safe.  This is where Washington needs to step in to protect us from all of the “Elonist” who decide to get cute in the use of their “ElonToys”.   They are really very nice toys as long as we all play nice with them.  Unfortunately we may need help from Washington to keep us playing nice. Alain


  Musk Says Tesla Will Wait For Progress On Full Self Driving Before Wider Rollout

Benzinga EV, March 22, ” … Now Musk has taken back that timeline and said a rollout doesn’t make sense right now as the system is undergoing “significant architectural changes.” The software is undergoing upgrades to use more cameras simultaneously for better decision making. The radar will also not be required in future versions, which is something currently heavily relied on in Tesla and other manufacturer driver-assist systems….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Yea!!! Somebody finally got to him.   FSD was about to implode him.  Alain

Tesla’s new touchscreen drive selector doesn’t violate the rules, NHTSA says

A. Hawkins, March 25, “Tesla’s decision to remove the gear-selector stalk from the steering wheel and automate shifting between park, reverse, neutral, and drive (PRND) does not violate any federal motor vehicle rules, a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency told The Verge.

The gear selection via touchscreen is a backup while Tesla still works to fully automate the process. A video of the new touchscreen interface that will be available in refreshed versions of Tesla’s Model S and X surfaced earlier this week, causing a bit of a stir over the safety of using a touchscreen to control such basic, safety-critical functions…..” Read more  Hmmmm…   This is only one concern, the other is driver distraction!!!  With all that much in the car waiting to be absorbed visually, how can a person possibly pay attention to what is going on if front of them.  Apple Play is bad.  This is bad!   Large screens are bad!!!! Alain

  Macroeconomic Impacts of Automated Driving on Long-Haul Trucking

FHWA-JPO-21-847m Jan. 28, “…”  Read more Worth reading as a starting point; however, its focus on Driverless where the paramount benefit is the elimination of the cost of the driver while incurring yet unknown additional support costs to perform the “concierge” functions now performed by the driver.  More importantly, what also seems to be missing is consideration that Self-driving technology, when in the hands of professional drivers rather than consumers, actually is easier to achieve, safer and delivers attractive RoIs without incurring what will likely be substantial incremental investments to safely negotiate the driverless hurdles on the very broad Operational Design Domain a driverless truck will need to even be a candidate for purchase by a logistics company, let alone an “owner-operator”.  Just like in the people moving business: not much demand for buses that operate on routes serving only a few bus stops (and can’t even break-even doing that).  There’s essentially no demand for a driverless truck whose ODD is constrained to anything less than the entire interstate system in some less than perfect weather conditions.  Consider the outcry had the Ever Given been “Captainless”. 

Another aspect that seems to not have been considered would parallel the fundamental opportunity of driverless in moving people… the opportunity to be demand responsive.  Move between the wheres of the goods and when the goods want to move.   Current logistics systems work like bus services.  A lot is done to aggregate the goods in a few places (depots), take them to places where lots of goods want to go (Big box sores) and do this “rarely” so that you’ve had a chance to accumulate a lot in any movement so that you can afford to pay a driver.  If this is an underpinning of the logistics system, then what happens if one removes the unit labor cost in that system?  The existence of a Less-than-Truckload (LTL) category suggests that there may well be an opportunity here.  ??? Alain

  Underage teen gets in Tesla’s back seat and claims it was self-driving after being pulled over by police

F. Lambert, March 26, “An underage teen who was driving a Tesla without a driver’s license or the owner’s permission got creative when the car was stopped by the police: She decided to jump in the back seat and claim the Tesla was self-driving.  The incident happened near Daytona Beach, Florida, where a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over a Tesla Model Y driving on the wrong side of the road.

After the vehicle stopped, it slowly backed up into the police cruiser. When the deputy walked to the driver’s window to see what the problem was, he didn’t find anyone in the driver’s seat.

Instead, the police officer found a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, one in the back seat and one in the front passenger seat.

Both girls claimed that no one was driving the vehicle and that the Tesla was self-driving….” Read more  Hmmmm… Click-bait or just stupidity by all.  Because Elon has relied on his customers to behave in the use of what he sells to them, he has let the “Genie out of the bottle” and he has to put up with this crap.  It doesn’t take many to ruin what is fundamentally really good work.  Alain 

   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  14th Episode at noon on March 25, 2021 TO BE followed by 8 more weekly episodes  through to April15, 2021.  Each episode starting Live on Zoom @ noon Eastern (Princeton Time) and lasting for 1.5 hours or until Discussion with audience ends. 

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



  Elon Musk Is A Con Artist: Tesla s Full Self-Driving Scam Revisited

??? “..” Read more  Hmmmm…   Pure click-bait.  Presented here only fleeting entertainment value but also to show that those who carefully manufacture the stones that they throw probably also live in glass houses, but I didn’t waste my time looking for those houses.  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:s


4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

14th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

What Will Power Safely-driven Cars

The pros and cons from an economic and environmental perspective of different fuel sources for the future car fleet

noon ET, Thursday, April 1

Video Summary of 1st Session:  Setting the Stage



June 9, 2021, Fully virtual

On the More Technical Side

K. Kockelman’s AV Research Group at U of Texas