brad's blog

Tesla "reverse summon" won't be very exciting, but the eventual consequences are

Last year Tesla released "smart summon" which let you (very slowly) call your car to you from across a parking lot. It was cute but a bit of a dud, as it's not just very useful. Now Elon Musk promises "reverse summon" that will valet park your car for you. But if you have to watch it, it's not going to be very useful either.

Eventually, though, we'll get a robotic valet park that works without supervision. That will be very useful, allowing cheaper parking and better charging. Even today, the basic summon could allow slightly denser parking for cars that have it.


Online self-driving debate and lively panel (including me) Apr 27, 11am PDT

Next Monday, we will be doing an online version of a popular panel session we have done every year at the "Automated Vehicle Summit" -- the oldest self-driving car conference.

In this session we have a speaker propose a controversial idea, and then, a bit like a "shark tank" our panel (myself included) tear into the concepts and discuss them, and the audience asks questions too.

Car Companies Are Making Ventilators, But Ventilator Companies, Hackers And CPAP Companies Are Working Harder

If you read my earlier report on efforts to convert CPAP machines into ventilators with new firmwware the good news is that the feared massive ventilator shortage seems (for now) to have been avoided.


Does pseduo-LIDAR help Tesla or its competitors more?

Tesla doesn't want to use LIDAR. So they are hoping for success in a technique known as pseudo-LIDAR, where you train neural networks to look at images and calculate the distance to everything in the scene, as though you had a LIDAR. It's not here yet, but an interesting question is, should this succeed, is it better for Tesla or for their LIDAR using competitors who already have tons of experience using 3D point clouds?


Covid deaths could change election results: Do more Republican voters die than Democrats?

The projected deaths for Covid-19 in the USA are horrific -- 100,000 to 240,000. Let's hope it's not nearly that bad, but those numbers are enough that they actually could alter the election. Not simply because Covid-19 will be the top issue in the election, but because voters will die.


Starsky Robotics is very open about why their robotruck company died

Recently, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the founder of Starsky Robotics -- a startup doing self-driving and remove-driven transport trucks that I advised before they started going -- wrote a detailed and complex blog post about why he feels his company had to shut down. He goes into several issues, including failures of Deep Learning to meet hype, VC desires, strangeness of the trucking industry and lack of love for safety.

In my new article for the Forbes site, I dig into those reasons and whether he's right that nobody else will succeed soon, either.


Guide to having a good ZOOM video meeting

A Zoom 9 person meeting with smiling attractive people professionally lit and not wearing headsets.

People are doing huge amounts of videoconferencing during the Covid crisis. The tools keep improving, but there's a great deal that individual participants can do to make the meetings better. They take some effort but it's worth it.

Will the Covid crisis sink Trump?

In some discussion, I have seen it become almost an assumption that the economic meltdown and the Covid crisis will erode confidence in the President and settle the election, presuming things continue to November as they likely will. Historical patterns suggest that Presidents with good economies and stock markets get elected, those without them don't. We're seeing economic meltdown, high unemployment, fear and more.


Delivery robots could have saved the day if the virus had come a bit later

I've been involved with delivery robots for a long time, and on my walk through empty streets yesterday, I noticed a certain irony. We have a desperate need for more delivery capacity, especially without humans handling packages, and teams have been working hard to make deliverbots safe enough to drive on our streets.


A triple-tie that results in President Pelosi on Jan 20 is not impossible -- plus cancelling elections

Of course, sometimes a tie is resolved in the courts, not congress

It is possible if, among the swing states, Trump wins Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and the Nebraska 2nd (Omaha), while Biden wins Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin. This is not one of the most likely scenarios, because Arizona and Wisconsin are currently more on Trump's side than Biden's, but it's possible.


Home delivery when shopping stops in a virus shutdown

If we shut down public areas, we're going to need a lot of online shopping and home delivery. How can we do that in a virus-infected world? Here's some plans for how to make it happen even with gig workers (who aren't driving Uber and Lyft much any more.)

I outline some of the ways to make it work in this article.


LAX pushes Uber pickups to a remote lot. It's the wrong direction

As LAX and other airports push ride-hail to remote lots (which you have to take a shuttle to in the case of LAX-it) I examine why that's a crazy decision in my new article at In the article I also touch on how we can eventually move to being picked up, not at the curb, but at the plane, in an airport with lots of robocar pods.

LAX won't let Uber pick you up at the curb. It should be at your plane