Blogs

You can now go to the gate to meet folks at ONT airport again. We can get rid of the airport security nightmare if we want to as well

At ONT airport (Ontario California, east of L.A.) you can now once again get a pass to meet your family at the gate. That stopped on 9/11. But modern technology should be able to get rid of security lines and restore us to those simpler times of the past when flying wasn't a nightmare. Through the use of remote inspectors who can keep the x-ray belt rolling non-stop, and appointments at security and other tricks there is no reason most of the nightmare that airports have become can't be fixed.

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Launching the Alef, a try fly-and-drive flying car

Today I attended the launch of the Alef, a new e-VTOL vehicle that drives as well as flies. Most so-called flying cars don't actually drive, and there are reasons for this, but Alef thinks the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

I've been friends with Alef since 2018, though I have no stock, so here's my report on the issues in their design and launch.

Read Launching the Alef, a try fly-and-drive flying car

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Zoox gets more different with thermal cameras

Amazon's robotaxi company, Zoox, has always worked to be different, with its own custom vehicle designed from the ground up. They have added thermal cameras to it for night vision and detection of people and animals. I look at what that does and other factors about the normally low-profile company in this new Forbes.com article.

Zoox gets more different with thermal cameras

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Tesla removes ultrasonic sensors and disables parking features, something only Tesla could do

Tesla announced that new model 3 and Y vehicles delivered will no longer have the 12 ultrasonic sensors in the bumpers. They also disabled park assist and auto-park along with summon and the useless smart summon in these new cars, but promise those features will return soon as they work out how to do them with the cameras and software.

That's a remarkable move that no other auto OEM would do. Why have they done it and will it work? Read about it in a new Forbes site column at

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Pick a pseudonym if posting without logging in

I have changed the site so that the default name for anonymous posters on comments (Anonymous) is now blocked. Users may still post without authenticating, but it is requested they pick a pseudonym so readers can see when the same person is posting. Otherwise threads become very difficult to read. You can change your pseudonym when you want if desired. If you want your own protected name, contact me for a login.

Cruise ‘Recalls’ Robotaxis After Crash, But The Recall Is The Wrong Mechanism

In June, Cruise had the first crash for an uncrewed robotaxi which caused injuries to 3rd parties, including a passenger and a person in the other vehicle. The Cruise vehicle was partly at fault.

In this article I outline the new details we have learned about the crash, but also discuss what it means for the future, and whether the use of a NHTSA "Recall" for this particular software update is the right idea.

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EVs won't overload the power grid, in fact they (and ice) can save it.

With California mandating all new cars be EVs by 2035, and other places doing the same, EV-skeptics argue the power grid can't handle this. This claim appeared again during the recent California heat wave that came close to overloading the California grid over a false report that the state asked EV drivers not to charge their cars. (In reality it just repeated the everyday policy to avoid charging from 4pm to 9pm on high usage days.)

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Maybe the USA should get a king?

The USA threw off its king almost 250 years ago, and hereditary monarchy is of course a silly idea, and the remnant of an evil idea.

Yet the King that the UK, Canada and various other countries have is not without value. But there can be much more value that what you may be thinking of, namely saving the actual head of government from ceremonial work.

Tesla raises FSD price to $15K. Could it mean they might buy a way out?

Tesla announced the price for the FSD software add-on will rise to $15K (from $12K) Sept 5. The price is amazingly high for a prepaid pre-order of a product that doesn't exist yet. Yet people only pay $4K for it in the aftermarket, and the take rate keeps going down as they raise the price, negating revenue gains.

So what does it all mean? One unusual option is that at $15K/head, Tesla could fail at producing the FSD software, but buy another company that does succeed (using LIDAR probably) and retrofit the old cars at a profit. At this price it's hard for them to lose.

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Will Transit Agencies Fight Or Yield To The Self-Driving Revolution?

Some transit agencies want to be in charge of how self-driving cars are deployed in their cities. Otherwise, they say, robocars will compete with transit, as if that would be bad.

Read more about these issues at Will Transit Agencies Fight Or Yield To The Self-Driving Revolution?

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The Argument Over Whether Tesla FSD Will Run Over A Child Or Dummy Child Misses The Point

There has been lots of buzz over a video made by Tesla Critic Dan O'Dowd of a Tesla allegedly in FSD mode hitting a dummy in the shape of a child. We've seen Tesla fans duplicate it with their own kids, and Tesla asking the original video be taken down, and NHTSA saying not to use your own kids and more.

But it all misses the point. Of course a prototype fails in ways like this. The question is, are people actually getting hurt, and how do we really test these things to get them working? Is it OK to have customers participate in testing?

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Are Software-Limited Features Like BMW Heated Seats Or Tesla Limited Batteries Good For The Customer?

Two recent stories -- about BMW charging a monthly fee to use the heated seats pre-installed in your car, and Tesla replacing a 60kwh battery with a 90kwh under warranty, but forgetting to software limit it to 60kwh, then finally applying the limit after two resales of the car as an (unknowingly accidental) 90 model, have opened up cans of worms about the question of software enabled and disabled features, and whether they are good or bad for the customer or just good for the company.

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Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

Baidu Apollo has released their own custom robotaxi plan. This one looks more like a regular minivan/custom taxi, but its steering wheel, there only for compliance purposes, is designed to be removed when the law allows, and that opens up the interior. They also say they can make it for about $37,000.

For more details see my Forbes.com story at Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

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