Sunday, September 26, 2021

37th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

5th Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit:  Deployment of High Quality Affordable Mobility for All throughout New Jersey.

Thursday evening Nov. 18, through Saturday Nov. 20, 2021. Live (Covid permitting) Trenton, New Jersey. 

This 5th Summit is inspired by the many levels of public-sector, community and neighborhood welcoming and support that now exists in New Jersey for the deployment of high-quality affordable mobility made possible by automated driving technology that is especially targeted to serve those that, for whatever reason, don’t have access to their own personal car.  

The Princeton SDC Summits were initiated in 2017 to provide a venue for the open discussion of how technology, in particular automation, can be shaped to improve mobility of people and goods between and within cities. Early on it was realized that this form of mobility could easily provide yet another alternative to those that are so fortunate as to currently enjoy one or many high quality mobility options.

But, more importantly, it became obvious that substantial improvement in quality-of-life and equitable mobility can readily be made available to the un-served and under-served.  Those who cannot drive themselves, cannot afford the transport alternatives that exist for them, or who live in areas where, for either economic or other reasons, neither public nor private desireable forms of transport are offered.  Furthermore, such initial OODs can be readily expanded and replicated to allow the vast investments continuing to be made in this technology to actually yield their envisioned societal and financial benefits. 

The recently completed 4th Summit set the ground work for these initial deployments to serve these un-served and under-served communities.  Communities with many households having access to one or fewer cars and with challenged transit alternative.  We concluded the 4th Summit by envisioning a deployment throughout Trenton, NJ, a community where 70% of the household have access to one or fewer cars.

We believe that Trenton is a perfect Operational Design Domain (ODD) to successfully deploy begin to deliver equitable, high-quality, affordable mobility. 

The opportunity to expand throughout Mercer County and replicate this deployment scenario throughout the State exist and serve as a blueprint for many other “Trentons” of this world. 

The ground work set by the 4th Summit and the NJ Autonomous Vehicle Task Force has enable us to create a “most welcoming environment”  in New Jersey for creating a Public-Private Partnership to deliver this enhanced mobility to the residents of Trenton and all New Jersians.  The 5th Summit will focus directly on deployment in Trenton. The Summit will take place in Trenton.  We will also envision its expansion throughout Mercer County and its replication in and around New Jersey’s other major cities.  

The Technical portion of the summit will be in the morning, through lunch, of Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18. 

Sessions will be free of charge but will require advanced registration because seating will be limited. 


The Societal portion focused on engaging the customers of this form of mobility, featuring descriptions, discussions, interactions, exhibits and  technology demonstrations, will be free and open to the public, with preference given to Trenton residents on Friday and residents of Mercer County and the rest of New Jersey on Saturday.  Let us know if you’d like to be part of this Summit.   Link to Draft Program  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 234, Zoom-Cast Episode 234 1st Preview of 5th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

F. Fishkin, Sept. 26, “Tesla reportedly has built 300 thousand cars in Shanghai so far this year despite the chip shortage.  FedEx & Aurora partner for autonomous trucking in Texas.   And dramatic developments in advance of the upcoming 5th annual Princeton Smart Driving Car Summit.   Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin.  Tune in to Smart Driving Cars… and subscribe..”

   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 initiative

  Motional Invests in Las Vegas Operations with Expanded Testing, R&D Capabilities

Press release, Sep. 23, , “Las Vegas has played an important role in Motional’s growth as a global driverless technology leader. It’s home to our public robotaxi fleet, a service that has safely conducted over 100,000 public rides, and is also an important hub for our testing and research.

Motional is now significantly expanding our Las Vegas footprint as we continue to scale up ahead of our 2023 commercial robotaxi deployment. We are tripling the size of our Las Vegas closed-course testing facility, doubling our operations center, and growing our Las Vegas team by over 100 new employees. This represents Motional’s largest operations investment in the Las Vegas area to date…..” Read more Hmmmm…  Nice.  Hope they choose to participate in the 5th Summit and look to deploying in New Jersey.  See video.  Alain

  ‘Self-Driving’ Cars Begin to Emerge from a Cloud of Hype

S. Shladover, Sep. 25, “… With the benefit of hindsight, it has become obvious that the prevailing view during that period was false, with no more than a handful of advanced prototype vehicles having been driven on public roads by last year without the need for onboard safety drivers to intervene when the automation systems needed human help. The term “self-driving” has lost its original intended meaning because the driving assistance feature on the cars that have been labeled “full self-driving” cannot maneuver without constant human supervision, and “cars” are far less relevant for automation today than trucks, buses and shared-ride vans…

…The organizational learning curve and costs have been much longer and higher than expected. After investing at least a decade and billions of dollars in ADS development, the companies have learned that the technical requirements to support widespread use of the technology are far more complicated than they had originally envisioned. At the same time, companies such as Tesla and less mature start-ups that continue to plug faster and wider-scale deployments are those that are still working their way up a learning curve and have not yet realized how far they are from their goal…

… Automated urban and suburban ride-hailing services could become available on a limited basis as well, but the location-specific challenges to their deployment are sufficient that this is unlikely to reach a national scale soon. Read more Hmmmm…  Very nice and consistent with our SDC ZoomCast with Steve a couple of weeks ago.  Even Cell phones didn’t reach “national scale” in a short period of time.  That’s why SAE’s thoughts about “Level 5” are so absurd.  Henry Ford was an important step in the evolution of the Conventional car that still isn’t “Conventional everywhere, all weather, Level 5”.  Drivers couldn’t get to Princeton when Ida came through here.  In 1908, the Model T’s Operational Design Domain (ODD) was very limited indeed.  We need to start small where we’ll deliver the most value and the Technology will be most appreciated.  That’s the market that Henry went after.  That’s why Trenton is and ideal place to get started.  It has the need, is welcoming, small, yet big enough and relatively easy.  Alain

  FedEx, Aurora to launch autonomous-truck routes in Texas

S. Sumagaysay, Sep. 22, “FedEx Corp. and self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. are launching a pilot program for autonomous-truck shipments between Dallas and Houston, with the companies announcing Wednesday what they called a first-of-its-kind partnership involving the two companies and a truck maker.

“This is an exciting, industry-first collaboration that will work toward enhancing the logistics industry through safer, more efficient transportation of goods,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president of advanced technology and innovation at FedEx FDX, -1.00%, in a news release.

The initial fleet will involve a “modest” number of autonomous trucks and use backup drivers for safety at first, an Aurora spokeswoman said. The trucks will make the nearly 500-mile round-trip along the I-45 corridor multiple times a week, according to FedEx.

“At the end of 2023, we will launch our trucking business and haul loads autonomously between terminals without a safety driver,” Aurora said. The original-equipment manufacturing partner for this pilot is truck maker PACCAR Inc. ..”.  Read more Hmmmm… Realistic and responsible.  Aurora/Chris may well find that Aurora’s technology so enhances the driver’s quality-of-worklife and its associated return to FedEx that the RoI of the technology is very attractive to FedEx as a “drier assistance” technology without removal of the driver.  That would make Aurora’s technology viable today on interstate operations not just intra-red-states.   Alain

Elon Musk’s Push to Expand Tesla’s Driver Assistance to Cities Rankles a Top Safety Authority

R. Elliot, Sep.19, “… Jennifer Homendy, the new head of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tesla shouldn’t roll out the city-driving tool before addressing what the agency views as safety deficiencies in the company’s technology. The NTSB, which investigates crashes and issues safety recommendations though it has no regulatory authority, has urged Tesla to clamp down on how drivers are able to use the company’s driver-assistance tools.

“Basic safety issues have to be addressed before they’re then expanding it to other city streets and other areas,” she said in an interview. Ms. Homendy also expressed concern about how Tesla software is tested on public roadways….” Read more  Hmmmm… With over-the-air updating Tesla can readily monitor the Use of FSD and can readily disable FSD on any Tesla used by any driver that mis-behaves using FSD.  I can’t understand why Elon just doesn’t do it.  I guess all of the free press he gets is more valuable than the liabilities associated with FSD’s mis-use.  Not a good tug-of-war.  Alain

  Florida Tesla crash which killed two will be investigated by federal board

E. Helmore, Sep. 18,” … .Tesla’s chief executive, the billionaire Elon Musk, tweeted: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled and this car did not purchase [Full Self-Driving]. Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.”…”  Read more Hmmmm… Case closed. Since Tesla collects sufficient data it knows when it is liable and when it isn’t. If it doesn’t fit (system is off), you must acquit.   Alain

  Startup’s Autonomy Workaround: ‘Teledrivers’ to Operate Cars from Remote Location

S. Blanko, Sep. 19, “… Vay, which is based in Germany, has been testing a slightly different technology on the streets of Berlin that relies on teledrivers doing most of the work, operating the cars from computer stations that have a basic driver’s-seat setup—including a steering wheel, pedals, and several monitors to see what’s around the car—alongside a network that, vitally, doesn’t suffer from too much latency… Read more Hmmmm…If latency was the major challenge, then life would be easy.  Alain

  What Is Automatic Emergency Braking?

“Automatic emergency braking systems are designed to first warn you of an impending frontal collision, then automatically apply the brakes if you don’t — or if you don’t apply them hard enough. While this may not happen in time to completely avoid an accident, particularly on slippery roads, any reduction in speed will reduce the force of impact…  ”  Read more Hmmmm…  If NHTSA is going to go after Elon for using terminology that inflates the expectation of what a system can actually do, then they should go after SAE wrt AEB.  And, why the caveats about wet roads (cameras can readily see if the road is wet, or the windshield wipers are on.  Tires can actually can measure their coefficient of friction.).  And why don’t brakes trigger early enough to stop.  And why is AEB turned-off at high speeds…  Folks who live in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones.  Alain

  Securing Pittsburgh’s Break-out Position in Autonomous Mobile Systems.

S. Tripp, Sep 2021, “… To bring autonomous mobile systems solutions to market, it is not sufficient to build capacity in any one component of the technology stack. Rather, the goal of full deployment of autonomous end market solutions requires capabilities (or the ability to reliably source those capabilities) across the entire technology stack, as well as the means of linking the capabilities in each layer of the stack so that a system can perform as a fully integrated platform rather than a partial solution that requires further commercialization by others. Regions who are able to build out their technology ecosystems to support this type of integration will be poised to realize major economic growth. Triangulating results from multiple recent market research reports places the terrestrial autonomous mobile systems market alone at an estimated $802 billion global market by
2025-26. When adding aerial, marine, and defense autonomous systems to capture the broader autonomous mobile systems market space context, the total likely climbs above $1 trillion in total market size during the mid- to late-periodof the present decade
. If a region with a robust and well-supported technology ecosystem were to capture even 1% of the $1 trillion global autonomous mobile systems market, it would equate to a $10 billion growth opportunity developing within the next decade….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Worth paying attention to.  Alain

  Tesla Shanghai to make 300,000 cars Jan-Sept despite chip shortage -sources

Staff, Sep 26, “hanghai factory is expected to produce 300,000 cars in the first nine months of the year, capped by a delivery rush in the end of the July-September quarter, despite a global semiconductor shortage, two sources said….” Read more Hmmmm… That’s greater than 30k per month. 1k per day.  1 per working minute.  That’s pretty impressive for a largely serial production process.  They’re “Just Doing It”! Alain

  GM invests in Oculii, radar software maker for self-driving cars

Staff, Sep. 14, “General Motors Co’s (GM.N) venture capital arm has invested millions of dollars in Oculii, a U.S. startup maker of software for radar sensors used in self-driving cars, Oculii co-founder Steven Hong said…”   Read more Hmmmm… Nice; however, the image shows an Audi.  Whoops. (unfortunately, I’ve been there.) Alain

  Watch dashcam footage of a Tesla reportedly on Autopilot almost hitting a state trooper and slamming into two cars

G. Kay, Sep. 24, “The Florida Highway Patrol released a dashcam video of a Tesla that was reportedly on Autopilot nearly hitting a state trooper…. ” Read more Hmmmm… Watch the video.  Given the lane change that the Tesla seems to be making at the time of the crash, it is more likely that the driver was steering the Tesla and not AutoPilot in the seconds before the crash.  Alain

  China’s Geely to set up 5,000 battery swapping stations by 2025

Staff, Sep.26, “China’s Geely (GEELY.UL) aims to set up 5,000 battery swapping stations for electric vehicles (EV) globally by 2025, as sales grow in the world’s biggest vehicle market, the automaker said in a statement on Sunday….”  Read more Hmmmm… Seems like the non-parsimonious way to do things.  Should we do a tire rotation/exchange at the same time??? Alain

  A model for naturalistic glance behavior around Tesla Autopilot disengagements

A. Morando, Sep. 2021, “We present a model for visual behavior that can simulate the glance pattern observed around driver-initiated, non-critical disengagements of Tesla’s Autopilot (AP) in naturalistic highway driving.

Drivers may become inattentive when using partially-automated driving systems. The safety effects associated with inattention are unknown until we have a quantitative reference on how visual behavior changes with automation….” Read more Hmmmm…Very nice should-read paper.  The input is the system’s use and the output is glance behavior, but as is expressed upfront, implications on Safety are as yet unknown. What is now needed is the relationship between glance behavior and safety,  which may not be a simple task.

Most, maybe even >90%, of crashes involve what I term driver misbehavior.  Safety associated with these crashes may have little to do with “reduced attentiveness” but rather if these systems intervene during such misbehavior to avert or mitigate crashes and improve safety.  Also, attentiveness, may lead to stress, discomfort and bad behavior that may be averted if the stress and discomfort associated with attentiveness is alleviated.

Also, in the short run, our focus is on just one side of the distribution, crashes that happened.  Hidden from view are crashes that didn’t happen.  In the long run, we’ll know if the behavioral changes netted out to more, less or not so much change in safety.  It just would be nice to not have to wait.

From a simplistic perspective, Safety is largely about driver misbehavior.  If the system is tuned to mitigating driver misbehavior, then it has a chance of overriding/compensating for additional driver misbehavior that it induces.  Over-hyping these systems capabilities can’t be good and neither can over-stressing about them.  Good common sense should prevail.  Alain

Tesla says Autopilot can now detect and slow down for emergency vehicles’ lights at night

F. Lambert, Sep 17, “… “If Model3/ModelY detects lights from an emergency vehicle when using Autosteer at night on a high speed road, the driving speed is automatically reduced and the touchscreen displays a message informing you of the slowdown. You will also hear a chime and see a reminder to keep your hands on the steering wheel. When the light detections pass by or cease to appear, Autopilot resumes your cruising speed. Alternatively, you may tap the accelerator to resume your cruising speed.”

Interestingly, Tesla specifies that this new capacity works specifically “at night.”  The automaker also adds this important warning:

“Never depend on Autopilot features to determine the presence of emergency vehicles. Model3/ModelY may not detect lights from emergency vehicles in all situations. Keep your eyes on your driving path and always be prepared to take immediate action.”…. ”  Read more   Definitely a step forward.  Teslas should also slow down if a stationary object is in the lane ahead that the Tesla can’t pass under.  Alain

  The Maps That Steer Us Wrong

G. Bensinger, Sep. 26, ”  Too many of our digital maps are sellouts.

Just like the projection maps we’re all familiar with that inaccurately depict Greenland dwarfing South America, the digital maps that orient our lives on smartphones and laptops are the result of a series of compromises or half-truths and don’t always accurately represent the world as it is….” Read more Hmmmm…  Wow, maps aren’t perfect.  I’m sure Greg Bensinger is perfect.  “half-truths”…  That’s not an accurate depiction, now is it Greg.  Don’t bother reading this.  Not worth your time.  Bad enough it was a waste of mine. Alain

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

Sunday Supplement



More On….

Re-see:    Pop Up Metro USA Intro 09 2020

H. Poser’77, Sept 13, 2020.  “Creating Value for Light Density Urban Rail Lines”  . See slides,  See video Hmmmm… Simply Brilliant.  Alain

   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  It is over!!!  Now time to actually do something in the Trentons of this world.   

  Making Driverless Happen: The Road Forward (Updated)

K. Pyle, April 18, “It’s time to hit the start button,” is Fred Fishkin’s succinct way of summarizing the next steps in the Smart Driving Car journey. Fiskin, along with the LA Times’ Russ Mitchell co-produced the final session of the 2021 Smart Driving Car Summit, Making It Happen: Part 2. This 16th and final session in this multi-month online conference not only provided a summary of the thought-provoking speakers, but also provided food for thought on a way forward to bring mobility to “the Trentons of the World.”

Setting the stage for this final session, Michael Sena provided highlights of the Smart Driving Car journey that started in late December 2020.  Safety, high-quality, and affordable mobility, particularly for those who do not have many options, was a common theme to the 2021 Smart Driving Car Summit. As Princeton Professor Kornhauser, the conference organizer put it,…..” 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:
15th Session    Making it Happen – Part One: Elected Officials’ Role in Creating a Welcoming Environment in the Trentons of this World

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 SlidesGlenn 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, April 2021 “Making it Happen:  A Proposal for Providing Affordable, High-quality, On-demand Mobility for All in the “Trentons” of this World” 

Orf467F20_FinalReport “Analyzing Ride-Share Potential and Empty Repositioning Requirements of a Nationwide aTaxi System

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events

5th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit 

Fall 2021

Live in Person (Covid permitting)

Trenton, NJ

November 18 (evening) -> 20 2021

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: (Cybersecurity):
Session 3: (Automated Driving Systems):
Session 4: (Communications for ADS) :

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