Saturday, November 12, 2021

43st edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter


   First across the Forth – and a royal visit

H. Posner, Nov 10, “UK-based rolling stock & battery technology manufacturer Vivarail noted a number of achievements during the first week of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. The opening Saturday of the conference on Saturday October 30 saw a historic run across the Firth of Forth,. as the first electric train across the iconic bridge.

Vivarail was asked to operate its battery train for demonstration runs through the conference as part of the official Network Rail Green Trains@COP26 event.  Each day the train has taken delegates and invited guests from around the world to showcase the best of new emission-free technology. In the first week the train carried hundreds of  people from government, industry, academia, media and advocacy groups. … ” Read more  Hmmmm… But you know that the Pop-Up Metro train was the First Across the Atlantic.  Video, Slides and ZoomCast re: Pop-Up Metro.  And there is always Alain climbing on  #6988.😎 .   Absolutely Fantastic Henry.  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 241, Zoom-Cast Episode 241 w/Danny Shapiro, nVIDIA

F. Fishkin, Nov. 11, “NVIDIA’s GTC GPU Technology Conference was filled with innovations that can change lives…and save lives.  The company’s CEO declared someday everything that moves will be autonomous…either fully or mostly.  NVIDIA Automotive VP Danny Shapiro joins Alain Kornhauser and Fred Fishkin for the latest Smart Driving Cars. “

   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

  nVIDIA GTC Keynote with CEO Jensen Huang

Dirty Tesla, “NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang kicks off #GTC21 on November 9, 2021 with a keynote that presents the latest breakthroughs in #AI, data science, high performance computing, graphics, edge computing, networking, and autonomous machines.

Deep dive into announcements and discover more content at…” Read more Hmmmm… See especially 1:24:29 A Robotics Revolution with NVIDIA Orian pertinent to SmartDrivingCars @ .  Congratulations Danny & Jensen. Alain  

  EV start-up Rivian is valued at $86 billion after market debut, higher than Ford

L. Kolodny, Nov 10, “Rivian Automotive shares ended the day up 29% in their debut Wednesday, giving the Amazon and Ford-backed electric vehicle start-up a market valuation of $86 billion after one of the biggest IPOs this year.

Shares of Rivian originally priced at $78 a piece Tuesday night, but popped more than 50% Wednesday when it opened at $106.75 per share, before paring some of those gains later in the afternoon.

At its opening price, Rivian had an implied valuation of $91 billion. That puts Rivian past the market cap of Ford ($77 billion) and on par with General Motors ($86 billion). It’s still worth a fraction of electric vehicle pioneer Tesla, which has a market cap of more than $1 trillion….” Read more Hmmmm… Since Amazon and Ford own substantial stakes, Rivian may actually be worth it.  Alain

  Motional’s robotaxis will be fully driverless in Las Vegas by 2023

A. Hawkins, Nov. 9, “Motional, the autonomous vehicle company that is a $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, announced the city in which it would launch its fully driverless robotaxi service in 2023, and surprise, surprise, it’s Las Vegas.

Motional first began testing its autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas through a joint partnership with Lyft nearly four years ago. The testing began as a weeklong pilot between Aptiv and Lyft during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in 2018 and has since gone on to complete over 100,000 passenger trips…..” Read more Hmmmm… This is a “gonna” rather than a “dida” but may actually come to passa.  Alain

  Tesla Supercharger network reaches new milestone: 30,000 chargers worldwide

F. Lambert, Nov. 11, “Tesla announced that it reached a new milestone with its Supercharger network: it now has over 30,000 fast-chargers around the world.

Earlier this summer, we reported on how Tesla is gearing up for a giant Supercharger expansion ahead of opening the network to other EVs.

Following Tesla’s confirmation of this, the automaker started hiring many new charging design managers in charge of opening new stations in the US.

As we noted, the move coincides with a new $7.5 billion federal program to fund EV infrastructure that is currently being adopted, and one of the requirements to get access to the funds is that the charging stations are open to vehicles from more than one automaker…” Read more Hmmmm…  What may well be the fundamental brilliance the Tesla initiative.  Without it, we likely wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are. Congratulations.  Think of the revenue potential when electricity becomes scarce.  No way electricity generation is going to keep pace with growth in demand coming from conversion from gas2electricity, let alone phase-out of coal, let alone phase-out of nuclear, let alone phase-out of natural gas.  How expensive can electricity become?  Will it be rationed like butter and nylon? 🙁 Alain

  Tesla to deliver electric semi trucks before end of the year, says PepsiCo CEO, despite delays

F. Lambert, Nov. 8, “… Now PepsiCo, who is one of the biggest buyers of Tesla Semi trucks, either didn’t get the message or knows something we don’t, because it apparently expects deliveries by the end of the year.  Laguarta said in a new interview on CNBC that the company is expecting Tesla Semi deliveries in Q4:

We are already starting to buy electric trucks from Tesla, we don’t want to promote anybody, but that’s the brand we are using so far, and we are getting our first deliveries this Q4….”  Read more Hmmmm… I wonder if autoPilot/FSD will suddenly be available to PepsiCo?😎 If it is priced @ 10k, how will any of the driverless truck SPACs make a profit, let alone justify their valuations?.  The arithmetic isn’t pretty. (Class 8 trucks sold/year ~250k.  If the driverless sensor/processor/algorithm/actuator-stack price is $10k , that’s only a $2.5B total revenue opportunity.  That’s Revenue, 100% Market Share and Tesla likely being the market leader. Not pretty for the others. 🙁 Alain

  26-Year-Old CEO Takes His Autonomous Truck Company Public in $5 Billion Deal

P. Anand, Nov. 11, “When Alex Rodrigues started his company Embark Trucks Inc., he couldn’t rent a car without age restrictions. Now 26, Rodrigues becomes one of the first, and youngest, heads of an autonomous-driving company to pitch public investors on the promise that vehicles will soon be able to drive themselves.Embark started trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under the ticker EMBK. It wasn’t an especially warm reception. The shares fell as much as 7.3% in the first minute of trading.

The San Francisco-based company went public through a merger with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company run by a team that includes former executives of Canadian utilities companies. The deal valued Embark at about $5 billion… ” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Alex!   If you focus on Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) for trucks, then maybe. Else, for scale you’ll be competing against RR double-stacks that already do this where it is easy, let alone the Tu-Simples, Auroras, … of this world.  And to get off the ground, Tesla is likely in the way. Alain

  Tesla (TSLA) confirms Elon Musk has sold roughly $5 billion worth of stocks so far, likely to keep going

F. Lambert, Nov. 11, “In additional SEC filings late Wednesday, Tesla (TSLA) has confirmed that CEO Elon Musk has sold roughly $5 billion worth of stocks.

More sales are expected throughout the week.

Yesterday, we reported that Tesla revealed that Musk exercised about $2.3 billion worth of Tesla stock options and sold about $1.1 billion worth to cover the tax burden the comes with exercising the shares.

Over the next few hours, the automaker filed several more transactions from Musk confirming that the CEO unloaded about 4.5 million shares worth over $5 billion…”  Read more Hmmmm… The man is paying taxes.  God bless him.  He earned it!😎  Alain

  Tesla starts retrofit program for cameras on older vehicles with ‘Full Self-Driving’

F. Lambert, Nov. 9,”… “As an owner with Full Self-Driving Capability and early production cameras (your VIN), you are eligible for complimentary Autopilot Camera Upgrade, Camera replacements are required to access a continuously expanding suite of Full Self-Driving Capability features….”… ”  Read more Hmmmm…Mercedes has never offered me a “complimentary upgrade” on anything, ever.  Maybe they never over-promised anything either, but automated lane keeping in the 2014 “997” package deserves a “complementary upgrade”, in my opinion. Alain

  Kodiak Robotics Raises $125 Million in Oversubscribed Series B Round

Press release, Nov. 10, ” Kodiak Robotics, Inc., a leading self-driving trucking company, announced today that it has raised $125 million in an oversubscribed Series B fundraising round for a total of $165 million raised to date….”  Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Don.  Again ADAS for trucks needs to come first, let alone AEB coming before ADAS.  Alain

  First FSD Beta Crash Reported + Latest on Elon Musk’s Tesla Stock Sales

S. Alvarez, Nov 12, “With the FSD Beta program being expanded to more users, the advanced driver-assist system would inevitably meet an accident or two on the road. While drivers are always advised to stay extremely vigilant while the system is engaged, and while Tesla is all-too-willing to kick out users who have displayed a tendency to not pay ample attention to the road, there is still a good chance that Teslas running FSD Beta could be involved in a crash.

What seems to be the first reported FSD Beta crash was recently posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) official page for the 2021 Tesla Model Y. The incident reportedly happened on November 3, 2021, and did not result in any injuries or fires. What is quite strange, however, is that the complaint claimed that the driver attempted to take control of the Model Y while it was in FSD Beta, but the vehicle fought for control and forced itself into the incorrect lane. ..”  Read more Hmmmm…  Speaks for itself.  Also see from Rob Maurer.  Alain 

  11 Other Top AV Myths

P. Koopman, Sep 6, “…” Read more Hmmmm…  I’ll add one more… That driverless cars will become something a consumer will be able to buy from a car dealer and then use much like she/he did with a ’55 Chevy or a 2014 S Class, or …  Alain

  Tesla Model 3 involved in fatal FL crash was traveling 90 mph in a 30 mph area: NTSB

S. Alvarez, Nov 11, “A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that a Tesla Model 3 involved in a fatal crash in Coral Gables, Florida this past September was traveling 90 mph in a 30 mph zone. The vehicle was traveling in a residential area before it crashed into two trees and caught fire.

The crash, which happened on Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables, resulted in the tragic loss of life of the Model 3’s 20-year-old driver and a 19-year-passenger. According to the NTSB, it had retrieved about 5 seconds of pre-crash and crash data from the Model 3’s Event Data Recorder (EDR), which records and stores data associated with vehicle speed, acceleration, seat belt status, and airbag deployment.  …


The EDR data showed that the ill-fated Model 3’s accelerator pedal had been applied during the incident, and the service brake

also remained off. “Preliminary evaluation of the data indicated that application of the accelerator pedal ranged from 0 to 100%, the service brake remained off, and the maximum recorded vehicle speed was 90 mph,” the NTSB’s preliminary report noted.

It should be noted that Alhambra Circle is a residential street with a 30 mph speed limit. ”  Read more Hmmmm…  Also speaks for itself.  Also see the NTSB preliminary report .  While it is challenging for an Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system to do any crash mitigation when a car is heading towards a tree @ 90 mph, it should still be available to try, not be  turn-affable by the driver nor any other Automated Driving Assistance System (ADAS).  AEBs should be required to turn off all automated driving assistance, except AEB, Electronic Stability Control and anti-lock brakes , and force the driving responsibility back to the driver way before the car reached the speed of 90 mph. ADAS should only be cable of driving responsibly! In a 30 mph zone autoPilot/FSD/SuperCruise/… should disable themselves immediately when the car exceeds 39 mph and in other places at 9 mph over the posted speed limit.  Misbehavior in driving should be the exclusive responsibility of the driver and not some automated system.  Speeding above 9 mph over the speed limit should be deemed  egregious misbehavior.  Automated Driving Assistance Systems should not be assisting drivers to egregiously misbehave.  C’mon Elon.  Help us out here. Alain 

  275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

H. Murphy, Nov. 12, “After Southwest Airlines canceled his family’s flight on Oct. 9, Tyler Reece Maness realized that his best option was to drive 18 hours from Oklahoma City to Orlando, Fla. That’s the only way his 7-year-old daughter would make it to it Boo Bash, Disney World’s $159-a-person Halloween event, the following night.

Mr. Maness’s flight was one of around 2,000 the airline canceled that weekend. What made him angry, he said, was not the cancellation per se. It was that he only learned about it from another passenger after an agent checked their bags, and that his wife had wasted a total of 90 minutes on two calls trying to rebook their flights. (Both calls were dropped.) His wife, Carissa, said she was also infuriated by losing hours trying to reach someone on the phone to explain why, a month later, they have yet to get their $1,600 refund….”  Read more Hmmmm… Flying has become a really unenjoyable experience.  Just when TSA has risen up, in part helped by the reduced demand, the airlines have fallen flat on their face.  Inflated prices, packed planes, terrible service and wrath of cancellations.  Is it time to re-regulate them, or just enjoy staycations. Alain

5th Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit:  Deployment of Equitable Affordable, High Quality Mobility throughout New Jersey

Date Change:   Thursday evening, May 5, through Saturday May 7, 2022.  Live in Trenton, New Jersey. 

“Everything” was going well wrt the 5th Summit Nov 18->20; however…

Time is very short, we must focus on the election and the realities of where we remain with Covid really put cold water on some aspects of our vision for November.

Consequently. I’ve become convinced that it is very much better, that we take our time and reschedule for the first week on May 2022 rather than rush for what isn’t as good as could be. 

By May we will have received responses to our upcoming RfI for “Equitable … Mobility in Trenton”.  We will thus have a better idea on “Who”,  from the “What & How” communities, “Want & Can” Deploy “Equitable … Mobility” starting in Trenton with real expectations of scaling throughout New Jersey.

In May the 5th Summit can better achieve its fundamental purpose by allowing all of us in New Jersey to better learn from others around the world  the “Whats & Hows” and have the possible “Whos” get a better appreciation of the “Equitable … Mobility” desires of Trentonians and other New Jersians. 

Rescheduling the Summit to be between the RfI and the RfP steps of our Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Deployment Process, will better enable our Community Engagement initiative to shape our ultimate  deployment.  We’ll thus deliver even better mobility equitably and best improve quality-of-life in Trenton and throughout New Jersey.   

Please pencil into your calendar the new dates of  May 5 (Thursday evening) though May 7 (Trenton Mobility Festival Saturday). 😎   Please let me know if these dates work for you.

Sorry about the delay, but many will be relieved by this change. Plus, early May is really nice in NJ.😁


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 equitable, affordable, high-quality mobility. This is now made possible by automated driving technology that is especially targeted to serve those who, 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, we realized that this form of mobility could easily provide yet another alternative to those who are fortunate enough to 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 desirable forms of transport are offered.  Furthermore, such initial Operational Design Domains (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 groundwork for these initial deployments to benefit under-served communities. Communities with many households having access to one or fewer cars and with challenged transit alternatives. We concluded the 4th Summit by envisioning a deployment throughout Trenton, NJ, a community where 70% of the households have access to one or fewer cars.

We believe that Trenton is a perfect ODD to begin to deliver Equitable, Affordable, High-quality Mobility, in addition to being environmentally responsible, safe and comfortable.

The opportunity to expand throughout Mercer County and replicate this deployment scenario throughout the State exists.  This deployment will  serves as a blueprint for the future for many other “Trentons” of this world. 

The groundwork set by the 4th Summit and the NJ Autonomous Vehicle Task Force has enabled 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 and will take place in Trenton. We 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, May 6 and Saturday, May 7. 

Sessions will be free of charge but will require advance registration, as 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.  Link to Sponsorship Opportunities Link to Draft Program  Link to Registration

 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 

Spring 2022

Thursday (evening), May 5, Welcome Reception (Registration required)

Friday, May 6, Equitable Mobility Innovation Forum (Registration required)

Saturday, May 7, Equitable Mobility Festival (Open to All)

Trenton, NJ
Live in Person

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