Saturday, April 10, 2021
14th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

Stop, Inform, Wait! How To Handle An Autonomous Vehicle Incident

S. Talbott, April 9, “…Waymo is an autonomous vehicle company that is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google. In calendar year 2019 Waymo’s vehicles drove an impressive 6.1 million miles. According to Car and Driver, the average person drives 13,500 miles per year. Additionally, Car and Driver reported last year that approximately 80 companies are testing driverless vehicles. That’s a lot of miles on our roadways.

…Since Autonomous Vehicles will not be subject to the human actions of distraction …  I prefer to say…”will not be subject to driver misbehavior”  Texting while driving is misbehavior, as is tailgating, executive speeding, falling asleep, daydreaming, drinking,  … they should be able to reduce the majority of those crashes making our roadways considerably safer than they are today. But, if we are honest and are objectively looking at vehicle crashes, we know that some crashes will still occur. Not necessarily because of a failing on the part of the Autonomous Vehicle technology, but because they will be interacting on our roadways with other vehicles some of which will not be driven autonomously. There will be interaction with pedestrians, bicyclists and Autonomous Vehicle deliveries and scooters, plus a host of other modes of transportation on our roadways.

As we begin to ready the public for widespread use of Autonomous Vehicles, we need to prepare the occupants of these vehicles and the communities in which they will ride how to respond in the event of a crash…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  (emphasis added) A most important subject. Alain

  Driverless Lessons from the Sunshine State to the Garden State

K. Pyle, April 9, “The interesting thing about this [autonomous vehicle] technology is that it has enormous potential for improving quality of life. With that statement, Princeton Professor Alain Kornhauser set the stage for the penultimate session of the Smart Driving Car Summit, Making It Happen – Part 1 .  With a line-up of political leaders, this panel looked at what is necessary to cross the chasm from early adoption to the mainstream market for shared driverless vehicles.


Kornhauser points out that this technology is new and different. But the point of this panel was not to discuss the technology. An underlying assumption of this panel was that the technology will be able to match that of a human in each Operational Design Domain. Kornhauser’s concern is

“If communities don’t embrace it, cherish it, welcome it, it (shared driverless) may never happen.”  And, if it does not happen, the potential societal benefits will never occur.


The most impressive thing about the April 8th, 2021 panel, however, has nothing to do with autonomous vehicles. It was a productive and non-partisan conversation facilitated by Kornhauser. There were no “Ds” or “Rs”, only Americans exchanging ideas and lessons learned on the best way to set policy for this still-emerging market.


If You Can Make It in Trenton, You Can Make It Anywhere #……” Read more  Hmmmm…. We had another excellent Session.  Thank you for the summary, Ken!  Alain


Ken Pyle‘s Session Summaries of 4th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:
14th Session    What Will Power Safely-driven Cars

13th Session    Improving the Moving of Goods

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

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

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 207, Zoom-Cast Episode 207  w/Selika Josiah Talbott

F. Fishkin, April10 , “When a driverless vehicle crashes…what should passengers, other vehicle owners, law enforcement and first responders do? American University Professor Selika Josiah Talbott says the time for planning is now. She joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus Tesla, Apple and more in the latest Smart Driving Cars.” Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain


4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

16th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

Making It Happen: Part Two

Working at the Grass Roots Level to Create a Welcoming Environment in the Trentons of this World

noon ET, Thursday, April 15

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.

  Tiger Woods Was Clearly Speeding, So Why Didn’t He Even Get a Ticket?

K. Draper, March 9, “To anybody who has ever received a speeding ticket, the resolution of the investigation into Tiger Woods’s car crash in February might seem odd.

Despite the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s determination that Woods drove well above 80 miles per hour in a 45 m.p.h. zone, he was not given a ticket or charged with reckless driving. Law enforcement officers did not conduct field sobriety tests or obtain a search warrant for a blood test or toxicology report.

…“I think that, based on the physical punishment he suffered, it is more of a case of ‘What’s the point in charging him?’” Carey said.” Read more  Hmmmm… The more important question may well be… Why  did Tiger’s car allow him to misbehave to such an extent on this road?  It knew the speed limit.  It knew where he was.  It probably knew he was texting, if he was.  It knew how fast he was going. Its advertising tantalized his misbehavior.  When does the inducer and enabler of the misbehavior start “getting a ticket” and start being held liable? The car was watching and knew what was going on.  It saw everything that led up to it. It should be a product defect, if it allows the user to misbehave in using it.  I could have said “no to drugs” (“no to allowing the technology to be used in situations that the designers and producers of the technology know that bad things can happen.)  Luckily, the pain was only inflicted on the user and some may say he deserves what he got.   Good thing that you weren’t jogging along that road at that time, then…  Alain

  A New Mapping Camera Assembly & More?

K. Pyle, April 10, “Could this be a new way for Google or some other entity to capture images and metadata of the streets and buildings in a community? This module was recently seen strapped to a ski rack on an unmarked mini-SUV in Silicon Valley. It features seven cameras (6 each providing horizontal view with one pointing upwards)….”  Read more Hmmmm…Hopefully the one pointing straight up will be able to more reliably determine the clearance under objects along each road segment.   If maintained/current, this could go a long way towards eliminating false braking applications and essentially eliminate everyone’s stationary object in lane ahead “fugetaboutit” problem with a one-time, real-time lookup in Google’s streetview as to the minimum clearance in the route ahead.  Alain

  Tesla Owners Take To Reddit Asking What Happens If ‘Full Self Driving’ Isn’t Real

J. Torchinskys, March 25, “I wouldn’t call what’s happening a meltdown exactly, maybe more of a collective moment of clarity. Right now on Reddit’s r/teslamotors forum there’s an intense and very serious conversation about the now-$10,000 level 2 driver assist package that Tesla calls “Full Self-Driving” (FSD)—specifically, whether the features Tesla and Elon Musk started promising back in 2016 will ever actually exist, and what kind of legal exposure Tesla has if it fails to deliver. People have put down real money and haven’t yet gotten what they were expecting, which has led to these difficult conversations….”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Self-driving means that the car can drive itself under the driver’s supervision.  It is NOT driverless.  The fine print is clear. 

The issue may instead be an accounting question… when can Tesla/Elon accrue how much of the “$10k” price tag when FSD is something that is going to be delivered in some (unspecified) future software download onto hardware that was installed in the car delivered to the car owner.  Can the “cost ‘ of the tangible hardware be set at $10k and the “over-the-air” software byte stream be set at the cost of downloading it “over-the-air” which is essentially zero?   If not, then is Tesla properly accounting for that “revenue”?  Maybe the SEC and the IRS should be sniffing around.  Alain

  Animated chart of the day: World’s top ten producers of motor vehicles annually from 1950 to 2020

M. Perry, March 23, “The animated bar chart race visualization above shows the world’s top ten producers of motor vehicles from 1950 to 2020 using data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (English version of OICA). The annual OICA motor vehicle production figures include passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, minibuses, trucks, buses, and coaches. Here are some observations of this visualization:…”  Read more  Hmmmm…   The animation of these data is a must watch!!!    Alain

  Ford-Backed Self-Driving Startup Argo AI Mulling IPO This Year

K. Naughton, April 2, “.Argo AI, the self-driving startup backed by Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, is considering going public as soon as this year, according to people familiar with its plans.


Bryan Salesky, Argo’s co-founder, told employees in an all-hands meeting April 1 the company is looking to boost its funding as it comes closer to commercializing its self-driving technology, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal discussions. Ford, which invested $1 billion in Argo in 2017, plans to roll out robo-taxis and driverless delivery pods in 2022….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Why not.  It may well be the cheapest money.  What if it’s market cap becomes greater than Ford’s???  At least the Ford family will be happy.. Alain

  Toyota and Lexus Join Tesla and GM in Level 2 Semi-Autonomous Driving Fray

C. Golden, April 9, “For the moment, it’s lonely at the top of the semi-autonomous mountain. In the U.S., Tesla’s massively popular and somewhat controversial Autopilot is challenged only by GM’s Super Cruise, though state-of-the-art Level 2 (and beyond) systems from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Ford are either on their way or available in other markets. Toyota is the latest to join the Level 2 fray, announcing a new partially hands-free highway driving assist suite for the new Toyota Mirai FCV sedan and and the refreshed Lexus LS family.

The new tech is available exclusively in Japan for the moment, but a form of this new system will arrive on U.S.-market, all-wheel-drive Lexus LS sedans this fall under the “Lexus Teammate” label. Here, Teammate-equipped LSs will feature an advanced form of lane keep assist, along with hands-off acceleration, braking, and steering in the right conditions. Depending on what settings inputs from the driver, the LS will follow the vehicle ahead in the lane, navigate interchanges, traffic jams, and change lanes…”  Read more  Hmmmm…   I added the emphasis on “…in the right conditions.”  These should NOT be allowed into US Dealerships unless they include technology that allows these capabilities to be engaged by the driver ONLY when the “right conditions exist“, which always includes that the driver’s butt is in the driver’s seat and that the driver is alert and cognizant of the surrounding driving environment.  Alain

  Apple chief Tim Cook talks of autonomous cars

April 6, “…”We love to integrate hardware, software and services, and find the intersection points of those because we think that’s where the magic occurs.”

Cook hinted that an option could be for Apple to build an autonomous-driving technology platform used by auto makers.

He expressed admiration for electric car maker Tesla, which is among companies developing autonomous driving capabilities in vehicles….”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Listen to PodCast.  In last week’s Session 14 of the SDC Summit, Adam Jonas said emphatically: “The Apple Car will NOT have a tailpipe!”. Information you can take to the bank!  Alain

  Uber and Lyft have a driver shortage problem, and it’s costing them a lot of money

A. Hawkins, March 30, “Uber and Lyft have a driver shortage problem. With the number of US-based drivers for both apps down around 40 percent, the two companies are pledging to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to lure people back into the driver seat.

Uber announced Wednesday that it was launching a $250 million “stimulus” for drivers in the hopes of speeding their return to the platform.

“In 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn’t count on getting enough trips to make it worth their time,” Dennis Cinelli, Uber’s vice president for mobility in the US and Canada, wrote in a blog post. “In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them—making it a great time to be a driver.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Fundamental problem with Uber & Lyft (&Didi)… They can’t scale affordably.  Not enough people willing to work at what is not a living wage to affordably serve anything more than a small niche (< 1%) of the person trip market. That’s why driverless technology is absolutely needed if we want any substantial adoption of mobility-as-a-service.  Just think, none of these incentives would be needed by the driverless car technology to provide on-demand, high-quality service essentially everywhere (except where so few people live that only a very very few miss out or the densest parts of our cities that already have fine subways, (again, they actually amount to very few).)   That code simply does what the coder wanted the code to do. That code and the hardware that it needs to do its thing,  scales fundamentally because it is largely fixed cost which is Moore’s Lawish and has essentially no variable costs.   Plus that code doesn’t have a family to feed nor to pay a child’s college tuition, or… so it isn’t required to generate exorbitant margins. Alain

  Amazon workers in Bessemer have voted not to form a union

T. Lee, April 9, “Update: A majority of workers have voted not to form a union at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama. The result of the NLRB initial vote count was 1,798 votes against the union and 738 in favor. Hundreds of additional ballots were not counted because their authenticity was disputed. But the “no” side already has a majority of the 3,215 votes cast, making the issue moot.

Original story, April 8: A closely watched effort to unionize an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama appears to be headed for defeat. With about half the votes counted, 1,100 workers have voted against forming a union, while only 463 voted in favor…”  Read more  Hmmmm… No comment. Alain

  Watch: Dubai’s ‘Jetman’ jetpack marks an impressive milestone in autonomous human flight

P. Dialani, April 4, “…” Read more Hmmmm… This really should be in Click-bait, but Video  is interesting and it looks like it works, but it is NOT “autonomous”.  Not anymore than the Wright Brother’s plane was autonomous.  Can you see Lime flooding US cities with “JetMan_Share”.   Alain

   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  16th Episode at noon on April 15, 2021 TO BE followed by Summary Session on April 22, 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




Calendar of Upcoming Events


4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

16th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

Making It Happen: Part Two

Working at the Grass Roots Level to Create a Welcoming Environment in the Trentons of this World

noon ET, Thursday, April 15

Video Summary of 1st Session:  Setting the Stage



June 9, 2021, Fully virtual

On the More Technical Side

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


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

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

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