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Brad Ideas
Feb 04, 2023

Robocars Podcast: Hot issues of Jan 2023
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesI have done an experimental podcast discussion show on the hot future-of-transportation issues so far this year.

You can watch it on YouTube, where I have chapter markers to let you easily find the topics of interest to you, as we spoke for almost one hour and 20 minutes. I was joined by Mario Herger of The Last Driver Licence Holder

You can also download audio of this and future podcasts at https://robocars.com/podcast

You can also read a nice summary with timestamps at My Forbes Page

Transcript Below is a machine generated transcript of the discussion. It has the usual errors but can help you search for things of interest:


Hello everybody, I'm Brad Templeton from robocars.com and as an experiment I'm going to try doing a podcast style discussion show about self driving cars, electric cars and the

Brad Ideas
Feb 01, 2023

The (betting) law of demand and supply: More demand lowers prices rather than raising them.
Topic: FuturismGoing Green Even the briefest introduction to economics will describe the Law of Supply and Demand which says that when demand for something goes up (or supply shrinks) that the price will rise until the demand and supply match up again. More demand leads to higher prices.

This law is true only in the short term. In fact, it may be better to understand the reverse of this law: .begin box In other words, in the long term, more demand leads to lower prices.

As demand for a good increases, that drives increase in supply, and the price drops, sometimes greatly. .end box This principle is not a "law" that always happens, but history shows it's the way to bet. And many people know this principle in different forms, but it is very often ignored. Often to serious consequences.

Predictions of shortages and doom are common in history. Centuries ago, Malthus gave a warning on overpopulation that turned out to be completely wrong, and even so it is still repeated. The reality is that run

Brad Ideas
Jan 31, 2023

San Francisco Fire Dept. Decided They Should Smash The Window Of A Cruise Robotaxi. Did They Overdo It?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesOn Jan 21, SF Fire Dept. crews, worried a Cruise robotaxi was about to drive through their fire scene, smashed in its window. They said it wasn't stopping, and back when Cruise first began one of its cars did drive over a fire hose. Digging into the details though, Cruise said it had stopped after trying to pull over, and did what they expected. So what should it do, and does the fact that that Cruise takes the conservative approach in such situations of stopping and waiting for rescue constitute a big safety problem, or just a teething pain as they test and learn.

I dig into the details in the Forbes.com article at [San Francisco Fire Dept. Decided They Should Smash The Window Of A Cruise Robotaxi. Did They Overdo It?](https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradtempleton/2023/01/31/san-francisco-fire-dept-decided-they-should-smash-the-window-of-a-cruise-robotaxi--did-they-overdo-it/]

Brad Ideas
Jan 28, 2023

They will rent you an EV, but Avis, Hertz, Budget charge fat fees if you don't recharge it. Oops.
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesRental car companies are starting to rent EVs, which is great for many rentals. But Hertz and Avis/Budget have a fat fee if you don't return it recharged, and on some rentals that can be a real burden as you can't just "stop by the gas station for 5 minutes on the way to the airport." Though if your hotel has charging, it's even easier to refill than a gas car.

So I examine what all the rental companies do and what the fee means and how they charge the cars in this Forbes.com article.

Read about it at They will rent you an EV, but Avis, Hertz, Budget charge fat fees if you don't recharge it. Oops.

Brad Ideas
Jan 26, 2023

An 8-Car Pileup Started By A Tesla In Autopilot Opens Up Many Complex Issues
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbes(This originally appeared on Forbes.com. I am not always linking stories from there as they now have their own comment section though it is not well used as yet.)

On Thanksgiving (Nov 24) an 8-car pileup occurred on the San Francisco to Oakland Bay Bridge. Nobody was seriously injured, but interest was raised because it was all started by a driver in a 2021 Tesla Model S. The driver, a 76 year-old San Francisco lawyer, told police he was using Tesla's "Full Self Driving" mode and it malfunctioned, changing lanes and hitting the brakes hard in front of a line of cars. While the car would have actually been in "Autopilot" (a different system) this crash opens up some surprisingly interesting questions about how driver supervision of "pilot" style driver-assist systems should work, and who is at fault.

Tesla has two different systems which can take control of the car. The original one, "Autopilot," is included with cars and drives highways while drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, ready to intervene if the system does anything wrong. This is known as advanced "driver assist" or ADAS. Owners can also buy an upgrade to this called "Navigate on Autopilot" which adds the ability to do automatic lane changes, among a few other features.

For even more money, some Tesla owners have pre-bought Tesla's even

Brad Ideas
Jan 23, 2023

MIT/IEEE-Published Study Falsely Imagines Computing In Robocars Will Emit Lots Of Carbon. Relax, It's Unlikely
Topic: Going GreenRobocarsTags: forbesAn annoying paper argues that self-driving cars will use huge amounts of compute and thus have a giant carbon footprint. The boring way that it's wrong is that the compute load will not grow as they suggest.

The more interesting way that it's wrong is that self-driving EVs will draw most of their power from no-emission generation sources like solar and nuclear, even if they do use a lot of power.

See MIT/IEEE-Published Study Falsely Imagines Computing In Robocars Will Emit Lots Of Carbon. Relax, It's Unlikely

Brad Ideas
Jan 23, 2023

I Get Back In A Waymo To Ride In San Francisco With A Top Waymo Developer And It's Good ( Video)
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesI recently took a ride in a fully autonomous Waymo vehicle in San Francisco. It was my first ride in many years — I had been a member of the early team while it was part of Google. My guide on the ride was Andrew Chatham, whom I had worked with back then. He is now a Distinguished Engineer, managing fleet logistics and many other things, and reporting directly to Waymo's co-CEO.

(The video above includes my discussions with Chatham, with information not necessarily found in this text article.)

In that earlier era, vehicles of course needed a safety driver — I did that myself on rare occasions — but this day the driver seat would stay vacant and we would drive a much more complex environment. Many others are posting videos and reporting the same thing — the rides are smooth and confident, with nothing more than minor nits to comment on. Errors were frequent enough a decade ago, similar to Tesla FSD, and the road has been long. Our vehicle wandered around the Cole Valley and Haight-Ashbury areas of San Francisco in the daytime. Traffic and pedestrians were common but not

Brad Ideas
Jan 17, 2023

New "Autonomap" maps self-driving services around the world
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbes I have started building a map of all the autonomous services deployed carrying passengers or cargo. The services must be available to the public and out in public or semi-public spaces.

Turns out there are a lot. Contributions are welcome.

More details and info on contributing can be found at the map page

Brad Ideas
Jan 12, 2023

Teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts (Critical Thinking) to all students
Topic: InventionsNew DemocracyRandom Ideas Probably not the teacher, or even somebody impersonating him, but the right idea.

I believe a new course should be added to the curriculum for teens. It would be a course on critical thinking skills, covering all the ways people will try to fool you and tricks of the human mind, to arm students against these traps.

I suggest the best name for the course is: "Defense Against the Dark Arts." Ideally the blessing of J.K. Rowling would be given, but she should not get any veto over what's covered. The name would attract kids to looking forward to it. (The instructor probably wouldn't end up being evil and leave every year, though.) (Yes, I know Rowling has her enemies who want not just her disliked opinions but also her work stamped out. That's another debate for a different thread.)

On the curriculum would be:

Skeptical and critical thinking History and meaning of science, including the reasons behind the scientific method Understanding the biases and flaws of the mind, including things like Confirmation bias Tribalism Optimism bias Just World hypothesis Falability of memory, especially strong memory

Brad Ideas
Jan 09, 2023

Year end summary: Top Robocar stories of 2022
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesHere's my annual summary of the top stories of the prior year. This time the news was a strong mix of bad and good.

Read the text story on Forbes.com at Robocars 2022 year in review

And see the video version here:

Brad Ideas
Jan 03, 2023

California Law Tries To Force Tesla To Rename ‘FSD' Product But It May Not Work
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesCalifornia recently passed a law that is obviously aimed at forcing Tesla to stop using the name "Full Self-Driving" to describe the expensive software add-on they sell for their cars which does not, at this time, provide self driving, full or otherwise. The ostensible reason for this is to avoid customer confusion and the potential danger that could come from people thinking they have a self-driving car when they don't. But while it's clear that the public (and legislators) get confused about that, it's less clear that Tesla customers do, or that Tesla can't change their language slightly to comply with these rules.

The important elements of the California rule demand the following:

24011.5. (a) A dealer or manufacturer shall not sell any new passenger vehicle that is equipped with any partial driving automation feature, [Defined as SAE Level 2] or provide any software update or other vehicle upgrade that adds any partial driving automation feature, without, at the time of delivering or upgrading the vehicle, providing the buyer or owner with a distinct notice that provides the name of the feature and clearly describes the functions and limitations of the feature. (b) A manufacturer or dealer shall not name any partial driving automation feature, or describe any partial driving automation feature in marketing

Brad Ideas
Jan 03, 2023

Meet Gatik, Which May Be The Leader In Self-Driving Trucks By Attacking The Middle Mile
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesMany companies are working on self-driving trucks and delivery. As it became clear that robotaxi required a very large investment, teams looked for a more tractable problem. Most have gone after long-haul trucking on the interstate, but one leader has quietly gone after the "middle mile" while others go after long-haul and last-mile.

Gatik is now operating two truck routes with class 4 trucks with no human on board. A few other companies have done demonstration rides with nobody in the truck, but Gatik is doing an actual regular service, moving goods from warehouses to stores for Wal*Mart in Arkansas and Loblaws in Toronto.

Gatik attributes this success to the quality of their own self-driving stack, but also to attacking what they say is the right problem in the middle mile. Long-haul trucking efforts can be found at Waymo, Aurora, tuSimple, Kodiak, Plus, Embark and others. They want to move class-8 semi-trucks distances of 500 miles or more. In the future, that means safer trucking but also cheaper. Existing truck drivers can only work 11 hours/day when solo, while a robot can drive full-time except when refueling. To move cargo that fast, companies hire two drivers to take shifts on the truck while the partner sleeps in the back. It's grueling and expensive. There's also a shortage of drivers.


Brad Ideas
Jan 03, 2023

Waymo And Cruise Make Big Boosts In Robotaxi Service
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesCruise and Waymo, the clear #2 and #1 (respectively) in the Robotaxi race, have recently expanded their service areas for public access rides and driving with nobody in the vehicle. It's a continued positive milestone in a year that has seen many setbacks for self-driving projects.

Cruise announced it will begin service in Chandler Arizona (with some overlap with Waymo's first service) tonight with service from 7pm to 2 am. Cruise will also start service in a small area around downtown Austin and UT Austin from 10 pm to 5:30 am, the same hours they use in San Francisco. Cruise in November expanded service in San Francisco to all hours and most of the city, except the busiest part of the CBD — but only for use by Cruise employees. Waymo recently expanded service in San Francisco to add the full downtown only for employees and guests. Waymo continues to operate 24 hours/day, but adds safety drivers during certain weather conditions. Waymo service outside the NE quadrant of the city has been available to members of the public. Waymo doubled its service area around downtown Phoenix. Previously it also opened service from there to Phoenix airport, via a stop at the PHX Skytrain people mover that serves all terminals. Waymo has said opening service in Los Angeles is imminent. Waymo is

Brad Ideas
Dec 20, 2022

A Very Murphy Christmas - my mother's Christmas Album
Topic: Announcements

My gift to you all this holiday is a Christmas album I produced from my mother's 1950s studio recordings for her radio show. These have high quality audio. The album is available free to friends as a download of MP3s and also as a YouTube playlist. You can also download individual MP3s.

Later it will appear on Spotify/iTunes/etc. You will find a mix of classics like White Christmas, but also a handful of songs which you probably never heard before -- it's always nice to hear new Christmas songs.

There are 18 songs, including 4 from TV shows with lower audio quality.

If you go by my home the album is playing with all my lights synced to the music.

Even though these only went out on AM radio, we are lucky to have reel-to-reel quality tapes (though it was mixed

Brad Ideas
Dec 12, 2022

Elon Musk Gets Booed On Stage In SF - How Much Is That Hurting Tesla Stock?
Topic: InternetMediaTransportationTags: forbesMusk himself was surprised to see how controversial he had become when he got a lot of booing on stage with Dave Chappelle in San Francisco last night.

Musk has always been somebody who refused to give a crap what other people think, because he can afford it. But now that his personal brand is so tied to the success of both Tesla and Twitter, he has to deal with the fact that personal brand is largely what other people think.

Analysis of this problem, and how it affects the success and stock price of Tesla, is in this new article on the Forbes site:

Elon Musk Gets Booed On Stage In SF - How Much Is That Hurting Tesla Stock?

Brad Ideas
Dec 12, 2022

Tesla adding Radar, Apple Scales Back, Tesla Semi, Baidu expansion & Swiss power emergency
Topic: Going GreenRobocarsTags: forbesHere's a digest of some of my recent postings on Forbes.com

Tesla may add radar back A filing suggests Tesla may be putting a radar back in their cars, but this time a high resolution radar, which is a bit like the LIDAR they swore was a crutch. It would be a good idea.

Apple scales back robocar, so does Audi Apple's self-driving plans have always been secret, but leaks have shown a fair bit of chaos. The latest leak now suggests their car won't come out until 2026, and will have a steering wheel and pedals. Audi also scales back but other companies are going gangbusters.

Tesla's new Semi looks great but may cost more than you want to recharge Electric trucks are definitely the way forward, but the cost of fast charging is high, and could make them not have the huge advantage over gasoline on price that peop

Brad Ideas
Dec 01, 2022

A Taxonomy of Social Media to help in understanding what Twitter is
Topic: InternetMedia Town square in front of Seoul City Hall on protest day

To understand online media -- which now date back close to 50 years -- it's worth looking at a taxonomy of sorts for all the parameters of a social or publishing platform. These can be viewed as axes though they are not quite independent. With the new controversy over Twitter, it's interesting to examine Twitter's place in the space of online social media, what may have made it a success, and what else might compete with it.

Many of these parameters also apply to traditional media, but some are new, or expanded by things going online. In particular, media that are social and not just publishing are new to the online world.

Online media began on timesharing services -- indeed, Plato, which was the first, dates back to 1960, though it become more sophisticated and social in the 1970s. The first multicomputer network social medium was Arpanet mailing lists, the first created by Dave Farber. The Late 70s saw the arrival of online services, dial-up BBSs, and USENET, which was the seat of community for the internet during the entire 1980s and some of the 1990s, though there were several other popular networks such as IRC, Fido, and more. The mid-1990s saw the arrival of the web browser and website and an explosion of media, as well as a

Brad Ideas
Nov 28, 2022

Does it make sense to have off-grid solar in parking lots to charge cars?
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesGenerally it doesn't make sense (and isn't that green) to have off-grid solar compared to grid-tied solar. However, a new company sells a self-contained solar EV charging station for parking lots which they claim is cheaper than on-grid, because you can just get it delivered in one day with no permits, planning, wiring or construction.

It's true that all those factors are now the biggest element of charging and solar installations.

I examine this in a Forbes.com article at Does it make sense to have off-grid solar in parking lots to charge cars?

Brad Ideas
Nov 26, 2022

What would a Starlink phone look like?
Topic: InternetA recent Tweet had Elon Musk declare that if Apple and Google removed Twitter from their app stores (something I doubt will happen) that he might make his own phone to compete with them. Generally it's been doom for those that have tried to enter the smartphone market and fight this duopoly.

But in thinking about just what such a phone would be, there are some compelling things. Compelling that it could easily become the only phone you would want if you lived in a rural area. And a lot of the rural population is not in the least bit upset about Musk allowing Trump back on Twitter -- if they don't like him, it's because he makes those evil electric cars that are pushing their gas cars out.

The reason is Musk's unique position to make a Starlink phone. The Starlink phone would provide very limited and intermittent connectivity everywhere outdoors. Which is a big deal if you live in places which don't have cell service everywhere, and if you regularly drive around those areas. A very big deal. Starlink is launching new satellites with extra-high-gain antennas which are able to talk to existing 5G phones in a limited way, and has done a deal with T-Mobile to allow basic texting and emergency connectivity. Starlink could decide to focus a higher level of service on its own phone, which would eventually possibly add a few more antenna elements to make this work better.

The initial service is very low bandwidth and also intermittent -- there isn't always a 2nd generation high-gain satellite overhead. In time, the intermittent gaps would fade, b

Brad Ideas
Nov 22, 2022

How will EVs handle the Thanksgiving crunch?
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesThanksgiving is back baby. In 2019 a storm caused lines at some EV chargers. Will it repeat this year, and how do you handle the peak demand for long distance road travel?

Read some pre-holiday thoughts at How will EVs handle the Thanksgiving crunch?

Brad Ideas
Nov 16, 2022

What happens if self-driving cars don't arrive this decade?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesAs a companion to yesterday's article about why the death of self-driving has been exaggerated here is an article asking what happens if the doomsayers are right, if people can't pull off a usable robcar and robotaxi for a decade more more.

There are lots of easier, more tractable opportunities out there, and I list a number of them.

Read What happens if self-driving cars don't arrive this decade?

Brad Ideas
Nov 15, 2022

Reports Of The Death Of Self-Driving Cars Are Greatly Exaggerated
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesThis past month, especially with the shutdown of Argo.AI, have seen a number of declarations of the death of robocars. Thank to markets and expected consolidation, there definitely is a rough patch, but here's the argument that the field is hardly pining for the fjords and some things are going gangbusters, and not a decade or more away.

Read it on Forbes at [https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradtempleton/2022/11/15/reports-of-the-death-of-self-driving-cars-are-greatly-exaggerated/](Reports Of The Death Of Self-Driving Cars Are Greatly Exaggerated)

Brad Ideas
Nov 13, 2022

What makes a cryptocoin (or any currency) valuable?
Topic: FuturismGovernanceTechnologyTags: bitcoin

Why is a Bitcoin valuable? While almost all concede that shared faith -- or what I would term "Brand" -- is a major component of all currencies, there has been much debate over whether there are more intrinsic values that can keep the currency or token valuable, or get multiplied by brand to even higher value.

If anybody doubted the value of brand, we've seen the market cap of Bitcoin fall from $3T to $1T this year, but there's been no reduction in any of its other attributes, meaning that at least 2/3rds, and possibly much more of the value came from brand. Obviously for FTX's tokens, it looks like all or almost all the value will be in now-destroyed brand.

The sources of value In asking people what they felt supported the value of coins and tokens, here are some of them

As noted, brand -- the belief by a large group that there is value Security, with security differences in the designs of each system Privacy,

Brad Ideas
Nov 11, 2022

Why is the world's most successful entrepreneur screwing up Twitter so badly?
Topic: InternetMedia There's no shortage of commentary from people baffled by what's happening at Twitter. There are many who have disliked Elon Musk for a long time who feel this is just "more reasons to dislike" him. I feel I'm a fair bit better than average at understanding him, for while I have often been critical of his actions, I have generally always understood them at some level, in a way not all do. But I'm not alone in feeling at a loss to understand what's going on now.

It seemed strange that he would buy Twitter, mostly because he has so much else on his plate with Tesla, SpaceX/Starlink, Boring, Nuralink and other ventures. And he knows that it wasn't a good idea to take on more, but did so anyway. At those other companies, and his ventures of the past like Paypal/X and Zap2, he is a leading candidate for the most successful entrepreneur in the history of humanity. He's no "one hit wonder" who got very lucky. I have read many people who don't believe he's a great entrepreneur, saying that (obviously) that all the real work in the trenches was done by employees, not by the boss, or that Tesla made use of EV and solar subsidies, and SpaceX on government contracts. Those things don't alter the equation at all. A great entrepreneur can be a great inventor, but pushing others to be great inventors is actually the s

Brad Ideas
Nov 09, 2022

Zoom calls on Teslas and French Solar Parking Lots
Topic: Going GreenTransportationTags: forbesTwo stories today:

France mandates solar panels on parking lots France will require all parking lots with over 80 spaces to put in solar panels. That's huge, and means the power will be generated right where cars are charging in the morning -- no grid distribution needed.

France Mandates Solar Panels On Most Parking Lots; A Great Marriage With The EV

Zoom calls on a Tesla There will be a Zoom app for your Tesla. But really the app belongs in your phone, and your phone should be able to use the car screen as a display, as with Android Auto/Apple Carplay. Don't resist, Tesla

You'll Be Able To Make A Zoom Call On A Tesla Screen. How Backwards Is That?

Brad Ideas
Oct 31, 2022

Andrej Karpathy, former AI head at Tesla, explains taking out sensors
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesIn a short interview snippet, Karpathy, who recently stepped down from being director of AI for Tesla, explains their reasoning for taking out radar, ultrasonics, and never using LIDAR or detailed maps.

"The best part is no part" is Elon's philosophy, and it's a valid one, if you are an automaker who wants to lower costs. But is it the right philosophy if you want to be first on the road with a safe robocar?

I discuss these issues on Forbes.com in Andrej Karpathy, former AI head at Tesla, explains taking out sensors

Plus some other recent articles from the weekend:

Electric Cars Are Already Cheaper Than Gasoline Ones; Financing Companies Are Trying To Show That

Argo.AI Dies While MobilEye Soars On The Same Day, What Does It Mean For The Industry? Was Argo shopped around and nobody bought? Or is there another explanation. No matter what, it bode

Brad Ideas
Oct 26, 2022

Electrify America Chargers are rarely used, what's up with non-Tesla charging?
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesA press release from Electrify America, the largest non-Tesla charging network, revealed that their average stall is used slightly more than once a day.

I explore what that might be and what it means, with questions about how much people road trip in non-Teslas and the issues with poor reliability of these stations. And I point out ways to improve that reliability, including failing operational at the risk of giving out some free electricity.

Read more on Forbes.com at Electrify America Chargers are rarely used, what's up with non-Tesla charging?

Brad Ideas
Oct 24, 2022

Tesla Asks Drivers To Vote On New Supercharger Locations, But Will They Be Rural?
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesTesla is conducting a vote among owners on where to put new Superchargers. This will identify popular locations, but popularity may not be the only metric to use to decide where fast charging goes. Tesla paved the way by creating chargers not to use in your home town, but so that you would feel confident you could take your EV on long road trips -- something not possible before. The best choices may be small and rural, where people only go rarely, but where they want to feel they could go if they wanted.

Read more at Tesla Asks Drivers To Vote On New Supercharger Locations, But Will They Be Rural?

Brad Ideas
Oct 23, 2022

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
Topic: Air TravelTags: forbesAt 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.

Read the details on Forbes.com at

Brad Ideas
Oct 19, 2022

Launching the Alef, a try fly-and-drive flying car
Topic: Air TravelFuturismGoing GreenTags: forbesToday 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

Brad Ideas
Oct 19, 2022

Zoox gets more different with thermal cameras
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesAmazon'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

Brad Ideas
Oct 17, 2022

Tesla removes ultrasonic sensors and disables parking features, something only Tesla could do
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesTesla 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

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

Brad Ideas
Oct 15, 2022

Pick a pseudonym if posting without logging in
Topic: AnnouncementsI 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.

Brad Ideas
Oct 04, 2022

Part 2 of why you don't have a robocar yet
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesLast week I published part 1 of a 2-part video and text series on the factors standing in the way of you getting a robocar.

Here's part 2 as video:

You can read the text version on Forbes.com at Why Don't You Have A Self-Driving Car Yet? Part Two Outlines Some Social Problems

Brad Ideas
Sep 26, 2022

Two part series on why you don't have a robocar yet
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesI've made a 2 part series, text and video on what the key blocking factors are in the way of getting robocars into production. You can watch on YouTube. Or read the text version at why don't you have a robocar yet

YouTube video

Brad Ideas
Sep 19, 2022

Could AI art generators involve copyright violation?
Topic: FuturismIntellectual Property Martin Bogomolni uses Stable Diffiusion to quickly make drawings of Star Trek Characters akin to Seuss. If he did this commercially, could it be a copyright infringement?

Oh, the cases you'll know!

Everybody loves using AI-art (Midjourney, Dall-E, Stable Diffusion) software to make scenes "in the style of" a well known artist. But I predict an interesting court case when the artist is still in copyright. The neural network is trained on the copyrighted works, and the resulting work arguably derived from them. But wait, you say, surely it's a fair use? Not so fast. The recent appeals court ruling in Dr. Seuss vs. ComixMix, Gerrold and Templeton, where my brother did mash-up drawings of Star Trek figures in the style of Dr. Seuss to do a parody, had the court rule that using the style and patterns of a copyrighted artist might not be a fair use. He did win that it was a fair use in the district court but this got reversed by the court of appeals, and the Supreme court declined to consider it, leaving the reversal in place.

Ty does excellent work in his own original style, but he also is a master at working with the styles of others, which has won him much work drawing things like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the Simpsons and many ot

Brad Ideas
Sep 14, 2022

Cruise ‘Recalls' Robotaxis After Crash, But The Recall Is The Wrong Mechanism
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesIn 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.

Read more in the Forbes site story at Cruise ‘Recalls' Robotaxis After Crash, But The Recall Is The Wrong Mechanism

Brad Ideas
Sep 12, 2022

Cruise expands to Phoenix and Austin
Topic: RobocarsCruise announced today it would expand robotaxi operations to Phoenix and Austin and was able to do so very easily. They plan to have $1B in revenue by 2025 and even sell cars to consumers by then.

More details at Cruise expands to Phoenix and Austin

Brad Ideas
Sep 12, 2022

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

But it turns out the grid has lots of spare power capacity for EVs, though it needs more energy capacity. But EVs are the perfect match for solar power and can help enable a renewable grid, combined with the slowly growing use of ice to store cooling energy to use later in the heat of the day. Forget lithium, water is the cheaper energy storage medium you'll ever get.

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

Brad Ideas
Sep 10, 2022

Maybe the USA should get a king?
Topic: GovernanceNew DemocracyThe 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.

In particular, a non-political person or body with limited but important power can provide one of the "checks and balances" necessary in a working democracy. Though it's not easy to find the best structure from which to do this.

In the USA, the Supreme Court is supposed to fill this role. They are appointed for life and given a lot of power. Over time, they have grown that power beyond its original scope, and due to a clever 40-year manipulation of the abortion issue, they have also now become far more political than intended. The best path to fixing that may be to explore ways to prevent that political shift, but it's worth looking at how things go in other countries.

King Charles III holds a surprising amount of power, in theory -- a remnant of the way it worked for his ancestors. Laws are not in effect until he signs them. He can dissolve parliament and call an election. He decides who will form the government after the election. Except he doesn't do any of this. He just swore an oath to parliament to obey it. If he were to break it, and actually use these powers, it would become very li

Brad Ideas
Aug 31, 2022

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

I look at all the issues around this unusual product and its prices over time and where it might go in this new Forbes site article:

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

Brad Ideas
Aug 30, 2022

Will Transit Agencies Fight Or Yield To The Self-Driving Revolution?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesSome 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?

Brad Ideas
Aug 27, 2022

The design of the Nimbus mini-EV and why it's different from other cars
Topic: Going Green Nimbus mini-car has 3 wheels and fits in the space of a motorcycle, with most of the advantages of a car Recently I posted about my involvement in Nimbus, a new mini-car that is in development. Minimobility (my own term) consists of cars that are much smaller than the typical 5 seater sedan, typically seating only 1 or 2 and being much lighter. Many are narrower and easier to park. As a result they are also much more energy efficient and cheaper to make.

Mini-cars don't have a great history, at least in the USA. Most have not sold very well. You will find them more often in Europe and Asia, and in fact in some countries small vehicles (including scooters, motorcycles and tuk-tuks) are the most common type of vehicle.

You can see a video of me driving it in my LinkedIn post on the car. Also see some YouTube reviews below.

Mini-cars are interesting because they need much less road space and parking space. Over 80% of car trips are alone and within town, but we make them in 5-seater SUVs more than anything else. A great deal of energy use, pollution and road congestion can be blamed on this fact. If we could get a large fraction of trips to mini-cars,

Brad Ideas
Aug 25, 2022

The Argument Over Whether Tesla FSD Will Run Over A Child Or Dummy Child Misses The Point
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesThere 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?

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

Brad Ideas
Aug 07, 2022

Baidu starts paid robotaxi service in China
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesBaidu has finally moved to having a paid robotaxi service with no employee in the car. While they have remote monitoring and even driving over 5G this is still a big step and a show of internal confidence in the vehicle.

Read more at Baidu starts paid robotaxi service in China

Brad Ideas
Jul 29, 2022

Are Software-Limited Features Like BMW Heated Seats Or Tesla Limited Batteries Good For The Customer?
Topic: Going GreenTransportationTags: forbesTwo 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.

Read about it on Forbes.com at Are Software-Limited Features Like BMW Heated Seats Or Tesla Limited Batteries Good For The Customer?

Brad Ideas
Jul 20, 2022

Custom Robotaxi from Baidu
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesBaidu 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

Brad Ideas
Jul 12, 2022

Timeline of lost luggage at Heathrow
Topic: Air TravelFor my story of this summer's airport chaos, I describe a nightmare at Heathrow with luggage lost by Lufthansa. The main story (to be linked here) is about what airlines could be doing better when overloaded, but this article will outline a timeline of all the things going wrong.

Jan 2, 11am, Sofia: Check 3 bags with LH, 25 minutes before luggage deadline. In addition, as LH has advised flight will be full and requested passengers check carry-ons if they can, one carry-on is also checked all the way to LHR. Bags do not get onto the flight in Sofia. At Frankfurt, plane stops near wrong gate, and bus takes passengers to other entry. It takes almost an hour to walk and take the train back to almost the same location (!) through strange deserted non-Schengen corridors of FRA. Much faster to just enter and exit Schengen and thus not lose 30 minutes time planned for the lounge for lunch. While our bags are not with us, no notice is given. 4pm arrive LHR and wait for bags. Get notice there was some problem, head to baggage service desk Many bags are lost, few agents are on duty and queue is long. Call phone service desk while in line. They say they can't help without a file number. Attempt to get file number online. Web interface says for this itinerary, we must go to the service desk While waiting, a Turo peer-to-peer car rental provider is outside to hand us a car. He's very flexible. Normally a situation like this would probably screw up a Turo rental. While in line, notificat

Brad Ideas
Jul 08, 2022

Cruise Robotaxis are failing in groups in SF
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesSeveral instances have taken place where multiple Cruise robotaxis have all frozen as a group, sometimes blocking intersections.

I discuss reasons for that, and why it's not that big a deal, in this new article on the Forbes site.

Cruise Robotaxis are failing in groups in SF

Brad Ideas
Jun 28, 2022

All you need for a great EV road trip
Topic: Going GreenRobocarsTags: forbesI have written a guide of useful hints and tricks for doing an EV road trip and barely spending any time charging. I've done over 10,000 miles of EV road trips and you can to, once you get an EV.

Read this at Forbes.com:

All you need for a great EV road trip

I have two other articles on Forbes.com that I didn't publish here in the blog:

Forget SFFD Being Upset At Cruise, The Future For Emergency Vehicles With Robocars & e-VTOL Is Super Positive where I describe that in spite of a Cruise vehicle not being perfect with a fire truck, it's going to get much better.

Feds release barely useful data on ADAS crashes, and there probably isn't a problem

Brad Ideas
Jun 08, 2022

Intentional communities in European towns in decline
Topic: FuturismYou may have seen news coverage of various towns (mostly in Italy) that are selling houses for one Euro. There are even web sites to search for them.

This happens because many small towns face migration of their population to big cities. As population drops, houses get abandoned. These can become a blight on the city, possibly worsening its decline. To stop this, the cities seize the houses and give them away -- with some big catches.

To get one, you have to agree to renovate it, and put up a minimum bond. The real cost of renovation will often be higher, like €20,000. There will also be paperwork and legal fees. But getting a nice house in a nice village for €25,000 is still quite interesting -- though some people say it's much simpler to go to the same towns and just buy a house in better repair for a similar price, and do more modest work on it, without the special contract.

Let's face it, if you live very far away, and don't speak the language, doing all this work and finding contractors and remotely overseeing it all can be quite daunting.

Doing it as a group It seems to me that it could be more interesting to find a group of like-minded people to do this. Together, they would approach city councils to get a group of homes, perhaps not too far from each other. If the city is eager to sell a home for €1 to one person, they would be very eager to deal with a group.


Brad Ideas
Jun 01, 2022

Towing a trailer with an F150 Lightning cuts range in half, but that's not the only change
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesNow that we can get good EVs, people are moving to SUVs and trucks, as they did with gasoline. It's better than gasoline of course, and cheaper, but there is a hidden cost in needing all that extra energy, beyond extra cost.

Read about that at Towing a trailer with an F150 Lightning cuts range in half, but that's not the only change

Brad Ideas
May 28, 2022

Breaking Banks/Futurist Podcast on Keens and Stewards, Exploiting brain bugs and more
Topic: Brad's RantFuturismI recently did an episode of the Breaking Banks/Futurist Podcast. We go over many topics, and I hope you will like it all, but in particular I delve into two topics I have yet to complete my writings on. The first is my model of the great tribal war between the Keens (future-loving, more secular, liberal) and the Stewards (Past defending, less secular) which the Keens will win but are being dicks about.

Another segment is about using a moral theory that declares it wrong to exploit bugs in the human psyche as a solution to our new world of manipulative propaganda is at https://youtu.be/thGkxyVLpxc?t=1141 -- I will write more on both of these in time.

I apologize for the blurry video. I usually take special care to make this look great and something went wrong with my audio just before recording time and in futzing around I made the video poor, but the audio is great.

Brad Ideas
May 27, 2022

Cruise Robotaxi delays SFFD fire truck
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesSan Francisco Fire complained that a Cruise robotaxi delayed a fire truck (but by less than 25 seconds) when it was stuck behind a stopped garbage truck, and the Cruise couldn't pull over in the oncoming lane enough.

Read the Forbes.com story at Cruise Robotaxi delays SFFD fire truck

Brad Ideas
May 25, 2022

EV charging prices are all over the map, how should they price it
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesTravel around and you will find EV pricing anywhere from free, to up to 60 cents/kwh, or sometimes by the minute, with session fees, flat fees, idle fees and more.

The problem is that unlike gasoline, electrical energy isn't the product. It's charging that is the service with a bit of product. How does it make sense to price it?

Read more on Forbes.com at EV charging prices are all over the map, how should they price it

Brad Ideas
May 23, 2022

Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesA recent big announcement says the Cavnue consortium and Michigant will build a "Connected Autonomous Vehicle" corridor on I-94 outside Detroit. It's the classic "smart road" which special infrastructure and cars communicating with it.

But is it that smart, or is a dumb highway smarter in the end?

I outline the reasons in this Forbes site article at Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better

Brad Ideas
May 02, 2022

EV maintenance is really cheap, but the dark secret is the tires
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesI just did my annual maintenance on my Tesla -- adding wiper fluid and putting air in the tires. That's really it. But last year it was different. I had to replace my tires after only 29,000 miles, in part because I mistakenly never rotated them. But there's more to it than just that mistake, so the tires remain a special source of higher maintenance cost you need to worry about.

Read more about it in my new Forbes site article at EV maintenance is really cheap, but the dark secret is the tires

Brad Ideas
Apr 26, 2022

What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesFor the robotaxi business to be worth it, they must get customers who give up car ownership because of the service, and use it regularly. But since robotaxis will have a limited service area, what will they do to make it happen?

I discuss various strategies, including partnering with competitors and linking services areas in a new Forbes site column at What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?

Brad Ideas
Apr 21, 2022

Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesElon Musk has now teased that Tesla will build its own custom robotaxi, at low cost. This is at odds with their brilliant plan to turn off-lease Teslas into robotaxis, letting somebody else eat up 40% of the depreciation. Will they do both, or do they have a new plan up their sleeve for a small one-person pod?

Read about this in my new Forbes.com story at Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?

Brad Ideas
Apr 19, 2022

I wish internet providers sold backup service
Topic: InternetComcast has been having a lot of outages this month. Since, like many, internet is vital to work and many things in the home, I would like to be able to have two internet providers, and fail over to the 2nd one when the first is out. I don't want to just have to pay double to have this -- I want to pay the backup provider much less because I am almost never using them. I want to pay them if I use them a lot, and better still I want my 1st provider to pay them if the 1st provider goes out.

Of course, you there are many tools that will let you set up fail-over on your home gateway. There are even tools to bond two connections into one, or possibly to split the load over the two connections on an application by application basis. (To to this well you need a central routing node so that you look like one IP to the outside world.) That's good if you want to pay double, but I don't really need this. The gigabit download I get is more than most sites can send to me at, though doubling the upstream would be nice.

Providers could offer you a backup service, with the same install cost, but low monthly fees as long as you don't use it. You're costing them very little to be connected but send no traffic or minimal traffic. That's extra true for wireless providers who have no costs if you aren't sending.

There are barriers to doing this, and one big one is a sort of prisoner's dilemma. If carrier A offers backup service but carrier B does not, then all the people who want backup will get main service from carrier B. If both "defect" and don't off

Brad Ideas
Apr 18, 2022

A fantastic gas station is not a great EV charging location
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesIn my article last week, I outlined how Texas issued grants to build EV charging almost entirely at gas stations, including a chain of mega gas-stations known as Buc-ee's. Buc-ee's may be a great place for gas, but to understand why it may not be right for charging, you have to understand that for gas cars, gas stations are a destination where you get gasoline, and it is nice if they have amenities. For charging to work in its ideal way, you want to have destinations you were going to stop at anyway, which have charging as an amenity, so charging can take nothing from your day.

Lots of detail in this new Forbes site article at A fantastic gas station is not a great EV charging location

Brad Ideas
Apr 14, 2022

Tesla's Texas Charger Grant Applications Fail; It's Bad For Texas But Reveals Tesla's Super-Low Costs
Topic: Going GreenTags: forbesI went digging in the numbers behind the Texas grants to pay 70% of the cost of installing Fast charging. All the grants went to gas stations (terrible places to spend 40 minutes) and Tesla's applications for its first stations which charge non-Tesla cars (required by grant) didn't make the cut -- even though they came in at only 1/5th of the price per charger of most of the other applications. In this new article, I discuss the issues around this -- what does it mean for Tesla to open up stations, why is Tesla so ridiculously cheaper, why did Texas make such bad choices and more.

Read Tesla's Texas Charger Grant Applications Fail; It's Bad For Texas But Reveals Tesla's Super-Low Costs at Forbes.com

Brad Ideas
Apr 14, 2022

The NFT of the first tweet collapses in price. What does this tell us about what value NFTs have, if any?
Topic: FuturismInternetMedia You get a feeling from being in front of this original, as I was when I took the photo, than from this photo. But what about an indistinguishable 3-D reproduction?

A recent story says that the shady figure who purchased an NFT of the first tweet (by Jack Dorsey) for $2.9 million tried to auction it recently, and got only 8 bids, the largest around $280. Aside from the schadenfreude, this is interesting and counters what I thought might be the pony in the pile of shit that is the NFT market.

The NFT market is mostly scams and fraud. But there is, or could be, something real under the pile. The best way to understand it is realize that what an NFT represents is a readily tradeable form of provenance, and that provenance is actually the core source of value in traditional art and collectibles.

Collectible items can sell for high prices, but they don't do so without provenance, which is evidence or proof of the item's claimed connection to its creator. When people buy collectibles and art, they partly buy it for the aesthetic value of the item, but mostly th

Brad Ideas
Apr 13, 2022

We find out what happens when SF Police pull over an unmanned Cruise robocar
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesFrom the earliest days, one of the most common questions was "What happens when the cops want to pull over a robocar or give it a ticket?" We find out a real answer in a video of SFPD stopping an empty Cruise robotaxi on the streets of San Francisco.

It wasn't actually that much of a mystery, and the major teams all have detailed first responder training and plans in place, and it happened here. This was a very rare case where it actually made sense to pull over this car, which was driving at night without its lights on, which is unsafe.

See all the details and analysis in my Forbes site story at:

We find out what happens when SF Police pull over an unmanned Cruise robocar

Brad Ideas
Apr 01, 2022

Elon Musk buys NFT of Will Smith's "Slap" for $832M
Topic: ComedyFuturismApril 1, 2022: Elon Musk has purchased an NFT of the slap of comedian Chris Rock by actor Will Smith which took place during the 2022 Acadamy Awards(R) early this week. The NFT was minted on a new hyperledger-based blockchain managed by Sotheby's Auction House in partnership with Christie's Auctions and Private Sales using their new auction system as a way to promote the new blockchain.

There was huge excitement over this NFT sale because of the unprecedented global fame of the event. There have been NFTs sold of a thousand memes and other digital artworks, but nothing with this level of worldwide attention.

Smith and Rock issued the NFT jointly, revealing that the slap had been staged to create attention. "Mr. Smith and Mr. Rock are comedic actors, it was amusing that people thought he would actually hit a fellow comedian over a lame joke," said a spokesman for the duo. "The Academy isn't going to like this, but, hello? 832 million dollars?" said Rock, reportedly.

The NFT is not associated with any image or document. Rather, and unusually, it is tied to the "slap heard 'round the world" itself. NFTs assign a virtual digital title to abstract items such as digital artworks without providing any title to anything physical. The NFT can be sold and traded to convey provenance on the work of performance art. It is unknown if an NFT for performance art has ever been sold.

Elon Musk, the world's richest individual, feels the NFT is a good investment.

Brad Ideas
Apr 01, 2022

Elon Musk buys NFT of Will Smith's "Slap" for $832M (5.6B DOGE)
Topic: ComedyFuturism Smith and Rock share a smile an instant after the slap, dreaming of the income from the NFT sale

April 1, 2022: Elon Musk has purchased an NFT of the slap of comedian Chris Rock by actor Will Smith which took place during the 2022 Acadamy Awards(R) early this week. The NFT was minted on a new hyperledger-based blockchain managed by Sotheby's Auction House in partnership with Christie's Auctions and Private Sales using their new auction system as a way to promote the new blockchain.

There was huge excitement over this NFT sale because of the unprecedented global fame of the event. There have been NFTs sold of a thousand memes and other digital artworks, but nothing with this level of worldwide attention.

Smith and Rock issued the NFT jointly, revealing that the slap had been staged to create attention. "Mr. Smith and Mr. Rock are comedic actors, it was amusing that people thought he would actually hit a fellow comedian over a lame joke," said a spokesman for the duo. "The Academy isn't going to like this, but, hello? 832 million dollars?" said Rock, reportedly.

The NFT is not associated with any image or document. Rather, and unusually, it is tied to the "slap heard 'round the world" itself. NFTs assign a virtual digital title to abstract items such as digital artworks wi

Brad Ideas
Mar 30, 2022

Ending Gasoline Thinking and understanding it's about what you do while charging
Topic: Going GreenRobocarsTags: forbes It is common to see plans for EV charging which are still bound up in "gasoline thinking" where people treat an EV like a car with a tank you empty and then fill up while empty, waiting. In fact, if you do EV charging right, you always do it while you are doing something else, so it takes zero time from your day.

In this new article and video, I outline how that works and prescribe a plan for charging based on putting it in the places where people park for the right periods of time, with sleep and work being the huge #2 and the #3. Then I outline where fast (40 minute fill-up) charging goes. Sadly, too much charging is planned for other reasons, by people who don't drive EVs or still do gasoline thinking.

Of course there is a robocar component which comes in at #1 -- the car that is just magically always charged.

I also discuss a very important realization when it comes to charging. Unlike gasoline, which is a commodity, electrical energy is not so much a product that you buy by the kwh,

Brad Ideas
Mar 22, 2022

Mercedes promotes Drive Pilot standby driver ("Level 3") system
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesMercedes has been promoting the new Drive Pilot system in high end models. Equipped with LIDAR, it will do the full driving task on freeways in traffic jams in daytime good weather.

In this new article I discuss whether the so-called "level" 3 (or any of the levels) make sense, and what this product means, good and bad.

See more at the Forbes site at Mercedes Drive Pilot Lets Driver Play Video Games In Traffic Jams, Is It A Big Deal?

Brad Ideas
Mar 16, 2022

Zelensky can up his game in translation to win more to his cause
Topic: InventionsMediaOK, this is probably the last thing on Zelensky's mind right now, which is full of more pressing issues. I watched him speak to parliament and to the US congress using the standard technique of a simultaneous translator. And he got a huge round of applause because his cause is dire and just.

I often give talks through simultaneous translators, who are skilled people who can listen in one language and talk in another at the same time. It's amazing they can do this, but even so a lot gets lost in translation, in particular the emotion, because people hear you well after you speak. Humour doesn't work at all.

I have experimented with some techniques to fix this, and I think they can be improved to help everybody, but especially Ukrainians. In particular, some simple video delay tricks can synchronize the translation of even live speakers with what they say, either in text or voice. In the future, the systems will be able to speak in your own voice, and even include your emotion as it does it.

I once gave a talk and was followed on stage by none other than Nicolas Sarkozy. (Long before the corruption scandal.) The audience spoke English, and Sarkozy opened in English but then said he would do better in French. We put on headsets and he did something amazing -- he had complete rapport with the audience. They laughed at his jokes. This never happens through translation. Sure, he is charismatic, as you need to be to become President, but there was

Brad Ideas
Mar 16, 2022

Video on 17 self-driving stories in early 2022
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbes Here's a new video where I go over 17 different recent stories in self-driving for early 2022. The video is divided up with Youtube "Chapters" so you can easily seek to the stories of interest to you.

0:00 Introduction 0:31 Cruise Accident 1:48 Tesla no radar in S or X 2:30 Tesla phantom breaking 3:15 Tesla speeds up delivery if you buy $12K FSD 6:11 Waymo charging money 10:27 Motional Robotaxi in vegas 11:52 Cruise History 12:35 Origin manufacturing approval 13:15 Kyle CEO of Cruise 15:50 Wayve gets a ton of money & Neural Nets 16:54 Waabi World 18:00 Starship gets $100M 19:43 Yandex shuts down delivery and robotaxi 21:10 Waymo trade secrets 22:40 Baidu and AutoX expand in China 23:30 Tesla FSD Rolling Stops 28:30 Dawn Project & Security Risk on Cars in War 31:40 New FMVSS for robots 33:16 Story of Uber safety driver

Brad Ideas
Mar 10, 2022

Dan O'Dowd is the billionaire who says our cars & infrastructure are horribly vulnerable and only he knows how to fix it
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesDan O'Dowd is the CEO of Green Hills Software. He recently placed a full page ad in the New York Times protesting the poor quality of Tesla FSD, and has started a project to get the world to secure all critical systems, including cars, using his techniques. He makes the bold claim that only he knows how to make software truly secure and bug free, and warns the world it had better listen. He knows that's an extreme claim, but also says he has proof if the secure systems he has designed for aircraft, fighter jets and the FBI. And he's got the money to make a stir.

Read about it in my Forbes site story Dan O'Dowd is the billionaire who says our cars & infrastructure are horribly vulnerable and only he knows how to fix it

Brad Ideas
Mar 01, 2022

Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesIt may seem minor that Waymo is going to start charging for robotaxi rides. But this starts the process of learning real facts about robotaxi economics and what a ride will cost, and how that changes the world.

Read the Forbes.com story at Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting

Brad Ideas
Feb 26, 2022

Stores should require masks in morning, optional later
Topic: GovernanceHealth Shop for books in the morning in a store where all are masked. Optional later in the day.

Whatever the data say, and whatever your view, the world is removing mask mandates fast and furious. Some people don't want to wear one, others would prefer (or even need) shops and offices that require them.

A solution -- encourage stores and offices that welcome the public to require masks in the morning, then later in the day make them optional, at least for patrons.

Earlier in the pandemic it was common for stores to delegate the first hours to people in the vulnerable population (such as seniors) and this allows the same sentiment. Customers get to choose, nobody is forced into what they don't want, except perhaps what hour of the day to shop.

The stores can track what customers want, and adjust the hours to match customer demand. It will be easy to see who prefers masking (comes in morning), who hates it and even who doesn't care, though some surveys could help measure the last group. If only 20% want to mask, the store can allocate 20% of hours.

It is best to do masked in the morning, since once unmasked, the air in the building will be likely to contain more virus for some period of time, making the transition the other way more difficult. The main challenge is that some people

Brad Ideas
Feb 25, 2022

What are the options for Ukraine?
Topic: PoliticsIn shock like most of us, I am trying to play out the various options for Ukraine and the west. None are good. What others can you suggest?

Capitulate Ukraine quickly surrenders, Putin installs puppet government. Much repression, modest insurrection, if that, as in Crimea.

West wimps out: Russia walks away with success, looks for next target. Extreme sanctions: Russia toughs it out, or Russia capitulates, restoring a battered Ukraine. Or Russia goes nuclear.

Resist Heavy damage and carnage in war, Russia still wins and installs puppet government. Strong resistance and insurrection. High cost on both sides. Ukraine in ruins.

It works, like for Afghans and Soviets. Russia eventually retreats. It persists long term. West wimps out -- see above It persists, but west makes extreme sanctions -- see options above Resistance is inspired by refusal to surrender (good) but country left in ruins (bad.)

NATO intervenes NATO and other forces call Putin's nuclear bluff. Long or short war until Russia forced to retreat. Major damage, cost and casualties for Ukraine, allies and Russia.

Or: Putin is not bluffing, uses nuclear weapons. Minor escalation until Putin capitulates or is deposed. Megadeath. Or possibly Gigadeath in full nuclear exchange if Putin is mad.

Russian Revolution During any of these plans, Russian people revolt and unseat Putin. How likely is it? Russian officers refuse nuclear orders. Possibly very good outcome,

Brad Ideas
Feb 19, 2022

Tesla FSD Review update for 10.9, with 3 crash interventions at one intersection
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbes Tesla FSD's 10.9 update did offer some improvements, but along a new route I quickly ran into 3 different times I had to intervene to prevent a crash at one intersection, so it still remains "F" grade quality (and really far below.)

You can read the transcript and other text on Forbes.com at Tesla FSD Review 10.9

You can also check out The original review and its FAQ as well as my Video on why Tesla is crazy not to use HD maps.

FAQ What made it try to jump into the intersection? I was stopped at the light, but even though I had backed up, it could only see part of the crosswalk and not the stop line which was at the nose of my car. You can see on the map it's not aware of the line. I am told that since I reactivated FSD in that position, with no

Brad Ideas
Feb 15, 2022

Downfall Hitler Video of Elon Musk being told Tesla FSD isn't working
Topic: ComedyRobocars When something funny's going on, the go to satire is a subtitled Downfall Hitler-rant video. Here's one I made as the Tesla FSD team tries to explain to Elon Musk that FSD isn't working well.

Some related articles and videos:

Video on Why Tesla is crazy not to use maps Recent article on new and better LIDARs Elon Musk's war on LIDAR and why each side thinks as it does Lasers vs. Cameras - 10 year old article explaining the virtues of each. Should not have to say this, but I actually respect Tesla and Elon Musk and am not attempting to compare anybody to Hitler -- this is just the internet's most famous subtitle meme. I want them to succeed and think they are on the wrong track with the longshot bet of doing it with computer vision and no detailed maps.

Some may remember my

Brad Ideas
Feb 11, 2022

Designing Olympic sports for the spectator
Topic: MediaMost sports are for the athlete, and should be. Some gain an audience, and bend to it to some degree. Perhaps the pinnacle of spectator sport is the Olympics. The are an international stage. While the medals are highly coveted by the athletes, almost all sports have their own world championships and other tournaments which are mostly for the athletes and a more limited cadre of serious spectators. The Olympics are about showing the world, as well as a bit too much national pride.

The games, in particular the winter games, are hit-and-miss on that count. Nobody can watch more than a tiny fraction. I always watch using a DVR, in particular a local DVR not a cloud DVR, where the video is stored on my disk and I can seek through it in an instant, and do decent quality fast-forward, rewind and sped-up playback. This is even more important than skipping commercials, and it lets me get through hours of coverage, seeing just what I want, in minutes, and see far more of the events than I ever could.

But there are definitely big differences in how engaging events are for the spectator. Perhaps the #1 event is the 100 meter sprint. It is of course very brief, and impressive -- "fastest man alive" -- but it has another important attribute -- you can watch it, and understand it, and see who is winning and who won, just with your eyes. (It's actually a little too fast, and the longer distances are a bit better.) You usually know who won, you don't need to check scores, or get ratings from judges, or not times on a clock. If it's close, a photo tells y

Brad Ideas
Feb 10, 2022

Tesla is crazy not to use maps
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesEvery time I compare Tesla with other contenders, people will say things to the effect of "they don't count, they use maps so they can only drive in tiny regions" because they think that's a bug rather than a feature.

Maps are super useful, and a car that can try to drive without a map is a car that can make a map, and so maps scale just fine and help you drive more roads, rather than fewer.

So I made a video outlining the virtues of maps, why they are cheap, and why it's OK if construction changes the road after you map it.

This is also accompanied by a text version of the transcript which can be found at Tesla is crazy not to use maps

Brad Ideas
Feb 09, 2022

California Disengagement Reports tell us a little more
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesThere isn't usually too much learned from these reports, but we can compare year to year, so here are some things learned this time:

California Disengagement Reports tell us a little more

Brad Ideas
Feb 01, 2022

NHTSA forces Tesla to turn off rolling stop option in FSD prototype -- that's a very bad new power for NHTSA
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesThe feds (NHTSA) are forcing Tesla to do a recall (software update, really) to disable the ability for the FSD prototype to do rolling stops at empty intersections. That turns out to be a surprising bold exercise of regulatory power, and probably a terrible idea, no matter how bad Tesla is. (Almost.) Full details in a new column on the situation, but there's a ton of nuance to this.

Read about it at NHTSA forces Tesla to turn off rolling stop option in FSD prototype -- that's a very bad new power for NHTSA on the Forbes site.

Nuro I also released a second story today about the progress at Nuro, the road-based delivery robot company. They have a new robot and are ready to scale, they say.

Read about that at Nuro's 3rd Generation Delivery Robot Is Ready For Manufacture

Brad Ideas
Jan 27, 2022

A means to restore equal representation in the United States through the division of States
Topic: GovernanceNew DemocracyPoliticsA frequent lament is that the design of the US constitution has created a system where voters are highly unequal. Most of all this is seen in the Senate, where the nearly 40 million residents in California have 2 seats in the Senate, and so do 550,000 in Wyoming. Indeed, if you take the 20 smallest states, they have fewer people together than California and get 40 seats in the Senate compared to the two. That same fact also means a smaller but real bias in the electoral college, with the smaller states having a bit more say in how the President is picked, though not with the extreme inequality in the Senate.

People lament this all the time, but it's only just lamenting. No plan described can happen while the GOP opposes it. Except these ones.

Two plans are outlined. One actually fixes the problem in a fair way but requires a great deal of sacrifice and change. The other is more doable, but it involves using a more extreme (and unfair) similar technique to force the GOP to the table to accept constitutional amendments to properly solve the problems that they would never otherwise accept, but might because they would face oblivion.

They both depend on this key option: The constitution fully permits dividing a state like California into smaller states, so long as this gets the approval of congress and the state to be divided. There are multiple prec

Brad Ideas
Jan 25, 2022

Analysis of MobilEye strategy in robocars and video interview with CEO Amnon Shashua
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesIt doesn't get as much coverage as others, but MobilEye has amassed an impressive portfolio of components to give them a shot at the robotaxi and robocar world (one of the few with a shot at both.)

Today I release both a new article with my analysis of their strategy and components, and also a video I made of an interview with Amnon Shashua, the founder and CEO of MobilEye, which is now a unit of Intel but will be spun out soon as a public company again.

Read Intel's MobilEye Levels Up To Take On Tesla And Others In Self-Driving

And watch the video:

You may also want to watch Intel's own videos explaining their approach.

Brad Ideas
Jan 18, 2022

Two self-driving shuttle companies die in a week, but there's good news
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesLast week saw Optimus Ride get sold for acqui-hire, and Local Motors shutting its doors. There are reasons why self-driving shuttles aren't that interesting right now, but that's going to change, and small van-sized vehicles are probably the future of group transportation.

Ready why in my Forbes site story at Two self-driving shuttle companies die in a week, but there's good news

Brad Ideas
Jan 16, 2022

A tool for picking words and winning at Wordle
Topic: InternetYou've seen Wordle, the game sweeping the web. I built a tool to examine all the choices and pick the best starting word, and then help you pick your 2nd word after you get the result.

Starting word ORATE My recommended starting word is ORATE. Those are the 5 most common letters in solutions to Wordle. Once you enter it, you may get back some blue or yellow letters. Depending on what you get, the table below shows you the answer, and then a suitable word to try after that answer. After the word it lists the most popular letters in the remaining possible winners, given the answer you got. However, it excludes the letters of ORATE, presuming you are trying to learn about the next 5 most likely letters, and then you will refine your guesses. (Another strategy would be to try to re-use the yellow letters in different positions. You know they are there somewhere and want to know where. This gives you more information about them, at the cost of learning what the other letters in the word are.)

Once it knows the letters, it looks for a word that contains the 5 most popular. If it can't find that, it will look among a larger set. You can use this word for your entry.

The program will pick very good words. It doesn't yet account for position -- ie. it doesn't consider that the "L" might be most commonly seen in position 2 and thus seek a word with L in position 2. Later I might improve it to look for those.

It only covers when you get 0, 1 or 2 letters right from ORATE. If you get 3, you should have more than enough to go on

Brad Ideas
Jan 13, 2022

I get and review Tesla FSD -- and give it an F
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesWell, I finally got to try Tesla FSD, and it was a big disappointment. From a robocar developer's viewpoint, it sucks and I give it an F.

I made a video review and a text one. The text one contains the review part of the video and lots more information. The video has the 3.5 mile sample ride around Apple HQ, full of mistakes.

Read the text review on Forbes.com at I get and review Tesla FSD -- and give it an F

Brad Ideas
Jan 11, 2022

Brad Ideas
Brad Templeton is Chairman Emeritus of the EFF, Singularity U founding computing faculty, software architect and internet entrepreneur, robotic car strategist, futurist lecturer, photographer and Burning Man artist. This is an "ideas" blog rather than a "cool thing I saw today" blog. Many of the items are not topical. If you like what you read, I recommend you also browse back in the archives, starting with the best of blog section. It also has various "topic" and "tag" sections (see menu on right) and some are sub blogs like Robocars, photography and Going Green. Try my home page for more info and contact data.

Brad Ideas
Jan 10, 2022

Reforming the constitution of the United States
May people seek amendments to the US constitution to meet various political goals. They want to clarify the status of abortion or modify gun rights. Such amendments should only be done through the expected political process, requiring ratification by 3/4ths of the states.

There is another set of amendments however that are even more important. These involve the structure of the system itself. They should not be political, but they have become so. This has happened because errors in the design of the system will aid one side or another. That side will immediately seek to protect the flaws that are in their favor, even if they might agree objectively that they are not ideal. It is thus nearly impossibly to fix the flaws. Here I will identify what some of those flaws are:

Uneven voting power for President The US Electoral college was not an accident, but its origins vanished long ago. It is not appropriate that some voters get more say over the choice of chief executive than others. A national popular vote should make the decision. One of the original goals might still exist -- that a person not be able to win by having extreme regional popularity. To assure that, the rule could select the winner of the popular vote who also won at least 10% of the vote in 80% of the congressional districts.

Equal power of states in the Senate The constitution cemented this in more than any other part. It can't be amended. But it no longer is needed, and nor is it fair. Because it can't be amended, a new body can be created - perhaps called "The Chamber of Delegates." Bills would require assent from 2 of the 3 houses -- Senate, Chamber and House of Reps. The Senate's special powers (consent of appointments, conviction on impeachment) would be transferred to the Chamber.

Brad Ideas
Jan 03, 2022

2021 Year in Review for Robocars
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesHere's my annual countdown of the biggest stories in self-driving for 2021. This year I have a summary of my text stories, and also made a video countdown because there's lots of nice background video to use.

You can read the text version on the Forbes site at:

Robocars 2021 year in review

Brad Ideas
Dec 28, 2021

Airlines Are Reducing Extreme Change Fees And The Variable Pricing Of Transportation
Topic: Air TravelTags: forbesAirlines have removed change fees on many flights, a trend started by the pandemic. Everybody has wished to get more flexibility in airline ticket pricing and changing, though airlines want to squeeze out every dollar that every passenger can afford. The new trends in flexible work may allow an option to please both sides with tickets that allow the airline to change when you fly to fill seats in exchange for a lower price and easier changes.

Read more at Forbes.com in Airlines Are Reducing Extreme Change Fees And The Variable Pricing Of Transportation

Brad Ideas
Dec 27, 2021

We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep
Topic: RobocarsTransportationTags: forbesI wrote before about the accursed "beep beep" that big machines make when they back up -- and even a few cars. There is an answer to it, and that answer has just come out of patent. So what can we do to ban the beep and make safer systems that don't destroy the peace and quiet of the air?

Read about that in this Forbes.com story at We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep

Brad Ideas
Dec 23, 2021

3 At-fault accidents involving Robocars and what they mean
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesIn a short period we saw 3 at-fault accidents involving robocars (with one being purely the fault of the safety driver) and we're going to see more. We're going to have to learn how to deal with them, to tell the difference between serious error that says a team has deployed too early, and the accidents that will happen with miles because perfection is not a possible goal.

Read more about it at Forbes.com in 3 At-fault accidents involving Robocars and what they mean

Brad Ideas
Dec 20, 2021

How to vote on things by not voting
Topic: PoliticsTags: science fictionThe overwhelming of the vote of the World Science Fiction Society to send the 2023 convention to China created controversy and not for the first time. They had a similar problem with the Hugo award nomination process which is even easier to overwhelm with a much smaller concerted group. They solved this problem by making the nomination rules much more complex, with an algorithm to attempt to de-rank candidates that appear in "slates" on many ballots. The attackers mostly gave up before the rule came into effect -- it takes 2 years -- and it didn't change end results much so a majority of people are generally satisfied. At least until it happened again with the site voting.

Changing the voting rules may or may not work, but it's the wrong approach. For this, and many other things in democracy, voting is actually the wrong answer. Democracy, which literally means "power to the people" is about knowing what the will of the people is so that it can be enacted.

Voting, however, when you get less than massive turnout, doesn't measure the will of the people. It measures a combination of the choices of the people and their enthusiasm about those choices. Often it measures the latter more stron

Brad Ideas
Dec 20, 2021

GM CEO Mary Barra fires Cruise CEO over robotaxi/car sales battle
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesI have often written about the debate between the robotaxi vision of self-driving and the private car sales vision. That debate got writ large last week with the firing of Cruise CEO Dan Ammann over his desire to push the robotaxi vision (and some other differences of view.)

I write about it on Forbes.com in GM CEO Mary Barra fires Cruise CEO over robotaxi/car sales battle

Brad Ideas
Dec 19, 2021

The World Science Fiction Convention (worldcon) goes to China, and of course there's politics
Topic: MediaPoliticsTags: science fictionI used to be a lot more involved in the annual science fiction Worldcon and the Hugo awards, but have drifted away of late. One of the reasons is that, even more than before, they have become more about politics than science fiction or community. There was a huge controversy over an attempt at bloc voting to change the Hugo awards, which both succeeded and failed, and had somewhat faded into the past. But the intrigues continue.

This time it's over the vote at each convention to pick the site of the event in 2 years time. This is a fan run convention with no official standing committee, so each one is run by a somewhat independent local group that bids for the chance to host. There used to be lots of contention for this, these days there is less, but this year there was a competition between Chengdu and Winnipeg. The convention is almost always in North America, and only 4 times has it gone to a non-English country. During the 20th century in particular, SF was almost entirely in English and overwhelmingly American with a smattering of British and Canadian and other former colonies. Indeed, the old rules for selecting the site deliberately alternated among 3 zones of North America, though an overseas bidder was no

Brad Ideas
Dec 13, 2021

Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla?
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesMercedez-Benz has announced approval of their "Drive Pilot" system, in Germany. Tesla, on the other hand, doesn't do this because of their focus on the far-off goal of a "full" self-driving product. What does a traffic jam pilot really mean, and what could Tesla be doing if they weren't putting so much focus on the still far-off FSD?

I consider this my my new Forbes site article Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla?

Brad Ideas
Dec 08, 2021

The milestones of a robotaxi business
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesHow can we tell how far along a robotaxi project is? They don't let us look under the hood, so we have to observe their real bets and milestones.

I've made a list of a rough order for the milestones. Most teams have far to go.

See Milestones of a robotaxi business at Forbes.com

Brad Ideas
Dec 06, 2021

Pick-up and Drop-off are big challenges for robotaxis - so much that SF's MTA opposes Cruise operation
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesIn an earlier article, I noted that Cruise, in demonstrating their first robotaxi rides with no safety driver, did all the pick-up an drop-off by just stopping in the lane (late at night.) This is something many Uber drivers do as well, but it's not technically legal. Cruise is doing things one step at a time, but the SF MTA doesn't like that and filed an opposition to them getting a permit to operate the service with the public (currently they just do employees.)

Here's a Forbes.com article on the issues with doing pick-up and drop-off.

Pick-up and Drop-off are big challenges for robotaxis - so much that SF's MTA opposes Cruise operation

Brad Ideas
Nov 23, 2021

Volocopter's simple "drone" design may end up a winner
Topic: Air TravelTags: forbesI've tended to downplay the early e-VTOL designs that are essentially big multirotor drones for people, including Volocopter. But the reality is that these designs, while losers in the long run, are winning the early race because they can get approved and in the air sooner. Here's an examination of Volocopter and what may happen long term.

Volocopter's simple "drone" design may end up a winner

Brad Ideas
Nov 23, 2021

Waymo uses imaging radar to see through the fog
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesPosted last week was my Forbes site story on Waymo's no imaging radar. They don't give a lot of details, but I explain what it means:

Waymo uses imaging radar to see through the fog

Brad Ideas
Nov 04, 2021

Cruise goes under the hood and talks about their technology
Topic: RobocarsTags: forbesTwo big milestones for Cruise this week, with two stories:

First, they started unmanned operations at night in San Francisco, and give their first taxi ride with no safety driver to founder Kyle Vogt. GM employees are now using Cruise vehicles as taxis.

See Cruise takes robotaxi "Ride #1"

On Thursday, they did a 2.5 hour long "under the hood" session to talk about various elements of their technology. It was pretty information dense.

See Cruise Under the Hood

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