Skip to main content
Smarter Cars

Smarter Cars

By Michele Kyrouz
Smarter Cars is a show about the future of transportation from autonomous vehicles to electric scooters. We believe the future includes all modes of transport if we can choose the right tool for the job for each trip. We’re interviewing key players about policies to encourage multi-modal transport, the role for ride services and autonomous vehicles, reducing personal car ownership, the impact of micromobility, how to redesign our streets and curbs, fair road pricing and the role of transit.
Listen on
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Breaker Logo

Breaker

Castbox Logo

Castbox

Google Play Music Logo

Google Play Music

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo

Overcast

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

PodBean Logo

PodBean

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Stitcher Logo

Stitcher

Currently playing episode

Applied Intuition - Qasar Younis, Matthew Colford

Smarter Cars

1x
Sam Kansara - Waymo
In this Season 5 finale, we're talking with Sam Kansara, a senior product manager at Waymo who is scaling the Waymo One driverless ride service and Waymo Via for trucking and local delivery. Waymo has been the leader in developing autonomous driving technology and the first ride service to remove the safety driver for a portion of the rides it offers in the Phoenix area. We discuss Waymo’s ride service, how Waymo thinks about safety and deployment, Waymo’s Via delivery service and the user experience and expectations around offering fully driverless rides.
36:08
September 15, 2020
Jewel Li - AutoX
Today we're talking with Jewel Li, the COO of AutoX, a company making an autonomous driving system for cars, delivery vehicles and long haul trucks. AutoX recently was the third company to receive a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California without a driver in the car.  We discuss AutoX's technology and business model, the driverless permit process in California, the testing that AutoX is doing in China, the differences in testing, regulation and infrastructure between China and the US, and AutoX's partnerships and ride service pilots. 
53:28
August 6, 2020
Evangelos Simoudis - Synapse Partners
In this episode, we talk with venture capital investor Evangelos Simoudis, Managing Partner of Synapse Partners and author of two books on the future of transportation - The Big Data Opportunity in Our Driverless Future and his newly published Transportation Transformation. We discuss his views on the future of autonomous vehicles, ridehail services, micromobility and public transit. We explore his thesis that next generation mobility - combining intelligent infrastructures provided by cities, with multi-modal transportation and goods delivery services - will require new value chains with novel business models and will rely on the collaboration of three constituencies - the automotive ecosystem, mobility services companies and governments. You can find more about Evangelos and his venture capital work at Synapse Partners here: https://synapsepartners.co/about/
44:58
July 27, 2020
Graham Gullans - Superpedestrian
In this episode, we talk with Graham Gullans, VP of Business and Corporate Development at Superpedestrian, a company that makes intelligent electric scooters and bikes and now operates a shared micromobility service called Link. We discuss the use of vehicle intelligence to improve safety, reliability and compliance for shared scooters and how Superpedestrian is taking on some of the biggest challenges that shared micromobility operators face.
39:24
July 20, 2020
Modar Alaoui - Eyeris
In this episode, we talk with Modar Alaoui, the CEO and founder of Eyeris, a company that provides in-vehicle scene understanding for cars with ADAS systems and fully autonomous vehicles. In-vehicle scene understanding can be used for tasks such as driver monitoring, occupant monitoring, safety and convenience adjustments and personalization, and determining whether a fleet vehicle needs to be cleaned or if items were left behind by a passenger. Eyeris has developed algorithms that evaluate and understand human behavior, surface classification and object localization using cameras and other sensors and an extensive data set built over many years. You can find more information about Eyeris here: https://www.eyeris.ai/
47:22
July 13, 2020
Dmitry Shevelenko - Tortoise
In this episode, we talk with Dmitry Shevelenko, CEO and founder of Tortoise, a company providing remote repositioning services for lightweight electric vehicles such as scooters and delivery robots. We discuss the challenges facing the shared scooter industry, and how Tortoise can help solve operational cost and revenue issues by using tele-operation to remotely reposition scooters to prevent clutter, make scooters more available to find and rent, recharge scooters and provide on-demand rental capability. We discuss Tortoise’s current operations in Peachtree Georgia, and its future plans for deployment in both the scooter and delivery markets.
36:55
July 6, 2020
Matthew Johnson-Roberson - Refraction AI
In this episode, we talk with Matthew Johnson-Roberson, the CEO and co-founder of RefractionAI, a company that builds and deploys robotic platforms to provide safe and scalable last mile goods delivery in urban areas. We discuss Refraction’s current business model, providing delivery services to restaurants and grocery stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan, its custom delivery pod that drives autonomously in the bike lane with tele-operation back up, and its future plans for expanding into other sectors and geographies to become the Stripe/Square of last mile logistics and delivery.
46:08
June 29, 2020
Warren Logan - City of Oakland
In this episode, we talk with Warren Logan, the Policy Director of Mobility and Interagency Relations for the Mayor’s Office of Oakland, California. Warren works closely with the City’s Department of Transportation, Public Works Department and other Bay Area public agencies to develop strategies that advance the city’s vision for safe and sustainable transportation for everyone. Warren joins us to discuss racism in transportation, including how it affects freedom of movement for black people, the impact of policing and enforcement in public spaces, the reaction in black communities to quick build projects, bike lanes and slow streets, how community engagement and building diverse teams can help serve communities historically left out of urban planning, and how cities and companies need to get out of their silos to address the intersectional issues of transportation, housing, jobs, policing and criminal justice.
1:20:14
June 25, 2020
James Wu - DeepMap
Today we are talking with James Wu, founder and CEO of DeepMap. DeepMap creates high definition maps for autonomous vehicles and assisted driving systems, and provides a map engine service with maintenance and updates to the maps. We discuss DeepMap’s business and customer model, how high definition maps are created, how mapping and localization work with the autonomous stack, technical and compute challenges for mapping, and the future of autonomous vehicles post-pandemic. For more on the work DeepMap is doing and job openings, check out their website: https://www.deepmap.ai/
1:00:09
June 22, 2020
Jason Stinson - Renovo
In this episode, we talk with Jason Stinson, CTO and co-founder of Renovo. We discuss Renovo’s origin story going back to 2010 - from its original electric supercar The Coupe, to working with Stanford on Marty, to developing an automotive software platform to help companies manage data from autonomous driving and assisted driving systems. Jason’s a car guy and a tech guy so we also discuss his thoughts on the future of autonomy, whether there will ever be a Level 3 car, and what it will take to get autonomous vehicles deployed at scale.
38:24
June 15, 2020
Jody Kelman - Lyft
Welcome to Season 5 of the Smarter Cars podcast. In this episode, we talk with Jody Kelman, Director of Product Management, Lyft’s Self-Driving Platform. We discuss Lyft’s two-pronged approach to autonomous vehicles, including its partnerships with Aptiv in Las Vegas and Waymo in Arizona, as well as its own development of an autonomous driving system through its Level 5 division. We also cover the challenges of operating self-driving fleets on a ride hail platform, and policies to promote multi-modal trips and better traffic flow in cities.
50:16
June 1, 2020
Sam Baker - Wunder Mobility
In the final episode of Season 4, we interview Sam Baker, co-founder and COO of Wunder Mobility, a company which provides technology to build and scale shared mobility services worldwide. We discuss Wunder Mobility’s business in Europe, its expansion to the US, the role of cities in encouraging multi-modal transport and how Wunder is like the AWS of mobility, providing solutions out of the box for companies looking to digitize assets and provide shared mobility services from car sharing to ride sharing to micromobility. 
34:40
January 27, 2020
Colin Roche - Swiftmile
In this episode, we interview Colin Roche, co-founder and CEO of Swiftmile. Swiftmile is a company that makes and deploys charging stations in cities for micromobility devices such as electric scooters and bikes. We discuss how Swiftmile deploys in cities on public and private land, its partnerships with hotels and scooter companies to provide mobility hubs, how their unattended solar-powered charge systems for shared light electric vehicles work, future developments for autonomous scooters, and the company’s goal to reduce car traffic and city congestion in our daily lives. We also discuss Swiftmile’s new charging stations with screens for transit info, PSAs and ads unveiled this year at CES. You can find more about Swiftmile at https://swiftmile.com/about.html#team
31:43
January 14, 2020
Jeffrey Tumlin - SFMTA, Director of Transportation
Today we talk with Jeffrey Tumlin, the new head of San Francisco's transportation agency, the SFMTA, about the challenges of managing city transportation needs as the city grows and the streets don't get any bigger. We discuss managing the streets for the public good, reducing traffic with better road geometry, how to improve public transit for riders, ways to increase safety with better infrastructure for micromobility and active modes, uses of the curb and the declining role of street parking, and how to use policy levers to promote equity. 
36:24
January 2, 2020
Michael Granoff - A VC Perspective - Maniv Mobility
In this episode, we talk with Michael Granoff, Managing Partner at Maniv Mobility, for a year-end wrap on the transportation landscape from a venture capital perspective. We discuss his firm’s investments and focus, the future of transportation in cities, the iteration of micromobility form factors and the need for cities to include all modes in their planning, from public transit to ride hail to micromobility solutions.
29:59
December 19, 2019
Jake Sion - COO of Transit
In this episode, we interview Jake Sion, the Chief Operating Officer of Transit. We discuss Transit’s business, the challenges of gathering real time data in cities and how cities can encourage multi-modal transportation in lieu of private car trips. Transit is an app that allows you to locate, book, and pay for public transit, car share, ride share and micromobility trips all in one app. Transit is live in over 200 cities, primarily in North America. You can find more information about Transit here: https://transitapp.com/
40:23
December 10, 2019
Drew Gray - Voyage
Today we're talking with Drew Gray, CTO at Voyage, to do a deep dive on the state of deep learning in autonomous vehicle development and to discuss Deepdrive, a new Voyage project to advance research into the use of reinforcement and end to end learning for AVs.
40:32
November 20, 2019
Jordan Coleman - Kodiak Robotics
In this episode, we interview Jordan Coleman, General Counsel of Kodiak Robotics, about Kodiak’s autonomous trucking business, the key issues around safety and autonomy, and policy/regulatory challenges the industry faces. Kodiak believes long-haul trucking is primed for autonomous technology. Highway driving is more structured and predictable than urban driving. This means there are fewer decisions for drivers to make and a better fit for autonomous vehicles. Kodiak is building an autonomous trucking business and began road testing and making commercial deliveries in Texas in 2019.
50:04
November 14, 2019
Giovanni Circella - UC Davis - Director, Three Revolutions of Future Mobility Program
Today we talk with Giovanni Circella, Director of the Three Revolutions Future of Mobility Program at UC Davis. We discuss his research on adoption of shared mobility services, like Uber/Lyft and micromobility, in California and their impact on car ownership and public transit use. We discuss his recent Panel Study with the National Center for Sustainable Transportation and further research to be completed soon. You can find more information about the study here: https://ncst.ucdavis.edu/research-product/panel-study-emerging-transportation-technologies-and-trends-california-phase-2
43:35
October 30, 2019
Robin Chase - Founder and former CEO of Zipcar - On the State of New Mobility
In this episode, we talk with transportation entrepreneur Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar. We have a wide-ranging discussion on the state of transportation in cities today, the impact of new mobility services and the policies cities should adopt to encourage a multi-modal future. You can learn more about Robin’s work here: www.robinchase.orgFor more on the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities, please visit: https://www.sharedmobilityprinciples.org/
50:57
October 22, 2019
SF Supervisor Matt Haney
Today we interview SF Supervisor Matt Haney. He is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing District 6 (Tenderloin, Civic Center, Mid-Market, SOMA, Yerba Buena, Rincon Hill, South Beach, Mission Bay, Treasure Island). Supervisor Haney is a past Commissioner and past President and Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education.  We have a wide-ranging discussion about transportation issues facing cities, including the challenges of incorporating new mobility services and making room on our streets for multi-modal transportation. We talk about allocation of space for street parking versus other curb uses such as drop off and pick up zones, the creation of new protected lanes for micromobility, the scooter permit program and the need for greater numbers of bikes and scooters in the city, and San Francisco’s transit system. Supervisor Haney is a thought leader in the transportation space and his district is ground zero for managing the challenges and benefits of new mobility services in cities.
32:28
July 15, 2019
SFMTA - Hank Willson, Parking and Curb Management
Today we’re talking about how to manage the curb and parking in this age of ridehailing services, micromobility, Amazon and food deliveries, and autonomous vehicles. Our guest is Hank Willson, Policy Manager, in Parking and Curb Management for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. We discuss all the ways that cities can manage available space in the right of way, how to measure curb productivity and make space for new modes of travel including TNC pick ups/drop offs, local food delivery services, freight delivery, and electric bikes and scooters. The SFMTA has faced these issues earlier than many cities as SF is ground zero for innovation in new transportation modes. 
47:13
June 2, 2019
rideOS - CTO Chris Blumenberg
In this episode, we talk with Chris Blumenberg, co-founder and CTO of rideOS. We discuss the rideOS platform which provides a broad set of products and services that can be used as building blocks for developing on-demand services, including both autonomous and human driven vehicles. The rideOS products operate in real-time through the cloud and include autonomous vehicle routing, estimated time of arrival calculations, dispatch, supply positioning, multi-rider trip planning and dashboards. We discuss the complex computer science problems involved in ride routing algorithms, the policy issues around minimizing traffic for TNC trips in cities, and how the issues might differ for autonomous vehicles and for pooled trips.
31:06
May 28, 2019
Lauren Mattern - Nelson\Nygaard - How Parking Policy Impacts Cities
In this episode, we talk with Lauren Mattern, a principal at Nelson/Nygaard, about parking policy and how it impacts cities. We discuss street parking and demand responsive pricing, including her work at the SFMTA on the innovative SFpark program. Lauren previously served as Manager of Parking Policy and Technology at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, helping bring SFpark, a new type of parking and demand management system, to life. The pioneering $42M project changed the parking management field, successfully reducing circling and emissions in pilot areas. We also discuss off-street parking requirements, or minimums, and how they affect urban design, housing supply and the cost of many goods and services in cities.
49:11
May 21, 2019
Coord - CTO Jacob Baskin
The curb is in high demand with TNCs picking up and dropping off passengers, delivery companies pulling over to deliver food, groceries and e-commerce items, and micromobility companies looking to park scooters and bikes. In this episode, we talk with Coord cofounder and CTO Jacob Baskin about how the company is mapping all of the curbs in cities to provide a digital database and API to help cities and companies better utilize curb space. Coord collects data about each section of curb and the regulations and use restrictions that define each curb so cities can create and enforce rules and companies can better understand where and how they can use the curb.
33:05
May 6, 2019
Harry Campbell - The Rideshare Guy
Today we're talking with Harry Campbell, founder of the Rideshare Guy blog and podcast, and the author of The Rideshare Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Driving for Uber, Lyft, and Other Ridesharing Companies.  We have a wide-ranging conversation about driving for Uber and Lyft, how the interests differ for drivers, consumers, companies and cities, the impact of rideshare services on cities, issues around traffic and congestion, the possible impact of autonomous fleets, and his views on various policy initiatives and solutions. 
55:09
April 25, 2019
Perceptive Automata - Sam Anthony
In this episode, we talk with Sam Anthony, the CTO and co-founder of Perceptive Automata, a company that makes software to help autonomous vehicles understand human behavior. We discuss why it is such a hard problem for autonomous vehicles to understand human intention and behavior, safety standards and testing for autonomous vehicles, Perceptive Automata’s business, how Perceptive Automata’s software works in ADAS and AV systems, how the algorithms are trained, and the state of autonomous vehicle development. 
53:03
March 22, 2019
Aeye - President Blair LaCorte
Today we’re discussing Lidar and perception systems with Blair LaCorte, President of Aeye. We discuss Aeye’s technology and business, how Aeye created its products to mimic human perception, and how its products fuse 2D cameras with 3D Lidar to create a different approach to perception sensors for autonomous vehicles. 
53:03
March 15, 2019
DeepScale - CEO Forrest Iandola
In this episode, we interview Forrest Iandola, the CEO of DeepScale, about vision and perception software using deep neural nets. We discuss DeepScale’s business, how it works with the rest of the autonomous vehicle technology stack, the state of autonomous vehicle software today and the challenges ahead. 
39:13
March 8, 2019
Talking Micromobility with Hong Quan of Karmic Bikes
Today we're talking about micromobility with local startup founder Hong Quan of Karmic Bikes. We discuss electric bikes, scooters and other form factors, the definition of micromobility, use cases and business models and city infrastructure.
45:55
February 28, 2019
TuSimple - Robert Brown
We discuss autonomous trucking with Robert Brown, Director of Public Affairs at TuSimple. We cover the technology used by TuSimple in its autonomous trucks, its current operations which include hauling loads for paying customers in Arizona, and some of the policy issues facing the autonomous trucking industry. 
35:50
February 23, 2019
Reilly Brennan - Trucks VC
Today on the podcast we have Reilly Brennan, a founding general partner of Trucks VC, a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on transportation. He also holds a teaching appointment at Stanford University and is the author of the Future of Transportation newsletter.
50:22
January 23, 2019
Applied Intuition - Qasar Younis, Matthew Colford
In this episode, we interview Qasar Younis and Matthew Colford of Applied Intuition about simulation and its role in developing and testing autonomous vehicles, including the safety and policy implications.
58:49
October 16, 2018
Warren Logan - San Francisco County Transportation Authority
In this episode, we talk with Warren Logan, a senior transportation planner at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority about the regulation of emerging mobility services in SF, including TNCs and scooters, and ways that industry can work more collaboratively with city government. We discuss the SFCTA's July 2018 Emerging Mobility Evaluation Report, including its conclusions and policy recommendations.
1:05:30
September 7, 2018
Alisyn Malek - May Mobility
Welcome to Season 2 of Smarter Cars. We talk with Alisyn Malek, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of May Mobility, about their commercial deployment of autonomous shuttles on public roads in Detroit and plans for future expansion.
44:11
July 20, 2018
Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer, L.A. Metro
In this episode, we interview Joshua Schank, the Chief Innovation Officer for L.A. Metro. We discuss the challenges facing public transit as mobility options evolve, and the innovative approach L.A. Metro is taking to improve transportation and mobility options in L.A. County, including pilot programs involving mobility on demand and microtransit.
42:45
April 12, 2018
Ding Zhao - Autonomous Vehicle Safety/Testing (U. Michigan)
In this episode, we discuss autonomous vehicle safety and testing with Ding Zhao, Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan. How will we know when AVs are safe enough to deploy? Will it take driving billions of road miles? We discuss his method of using accelerated evaluation techniques to more efficiently test safety scenarios and achieve confidence in AV safety.
40:43
April 6, 2018
Brian Soublet - California Dept of Motor Vehicles
In this episode, we discuss the new California autonomous vehicle regulations with Brian Soublet, Deputy Director and Chief Counsel for the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The California Legislature implemented legislation in 2012 directing the DMV to issue regulations governing autonomous vehicles. Over the last six years, the California DMV has issued two sets of regulations to govern the testing and now deployment of autonomous vehicles in California, with the first set in 2014 and the second set becoming effective on April 2, 2018. Brian Soublet has been instrumental in forming these regulations and he joins us to discuss some of the key points in the new regulations and how we got here.
1:05:44
March 29, 2018
Philip Koopman - Carnegie Mellon - AV Safety
Our guest is Professor Philip Koopman of Carnegie Mellon University. He’s been researching automotive safety and embedded systems for more than 20 years and is currently focused on safety in autonomous vehicles. We discuss how to think about autonomous vehicle safety, including what level of safety is appropriate, and how to measure and test safety with rigorous design engineering.
49:45
March 15, 2018
Nico Larco - Urbanism Next @ U. Oregon
Our guest is Nico Larco from the University of Oregon, and we discuss the secondary impacts of autonomous vehicles on cities, including potential effects on parking, transit, street design, land use, urban planning, sprawl and real estate valuation.
1:10:06
January 23, 2018
Regina Clewlow - Transportation Researcher UC Davis
In this episode, we talk with Regina Clewlow, a leading transportation researcher on shared mobility and autonomous vehicles. She recently published a UC Davis study regarding the adoption and impact of shared mobility services on cities.  We discuss the findings of her study and possible implications for autonomous vehicles, public transit and city policies.
43:41
November 3, 2017
Quin Garcia - Autotech Ventures
In this episode, we interview Quin Garcia, a Managing Director at Autotech Ventures. Autotech Ventures is a venture firm in Silicon Valley focused exclusively on funding ground transport companies, including companies involved in connected, shared and automated vehicles and the ecosystems/supply chains around them. We discuss with Quin his views on successful business models for autonomous vehicles and likely market outcomes and consolidation in the space. 
33:49
September 20, 2017
Lucy Yu of the U.K's CCAV
In this episode, we interview Lucy Yu, who is Head of Innovation and New Mobility Services at the U.K.'s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.  We discuss the UK's approach to promoting research and development of autonomous vehicles and to regulating testing and deployment.  
38:00
July 26, 2017
Tarin Ziyaee - Voyage
In this episode, we talk with Tarin Ziyaee, Director of AI and co-founder at Voyage, which is working to make autonomous taxis.  We discuss the engineering challenges still facing autonomous vehicles, in both hardware and software.
40:47
July 7, 2017
Evangelos Simoudis - Synapse Partners
In this episode, we talk with Evangelos Simoudis of Synapse Partners about autonomous vehicle business models, the impact of AVs on consumers, the auto industry and rideshare companies, and the value proposition in big data.
51:45
June 16, 2017
Darton Ito of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
In this episode, we talk with Darton Ito of SFMTA about the role of cities in determining how autonomous vehicles will be tested and deployed. We discuss safety, testing, pricing of access to city streets, disengagement reporting and other aspects of how autonomous vehicles may be regulated in California.
44:49
June 5, 2017
Shahin Farshchi of Lux Capital
In this episode of Smarter Cars, we talk with Shahin Farshchi of Lux Capital. We discuss the potential business models for deployment of autonomous vehicles, Lux Capital’s investment in Zoox and its plans to create a robo-taxi service, his views on the per-vehicle model versus the per-mile service model for autonomous vehicles, how to think about when AVs will be safe enough to deploy, and other thoughts about the state of the industry.
35:27
May 4, 2017
A Conversation with Adam Thierer
In this episode of Smarter Cars, we discuss with Adam Thierer the role of government in regulating autonomous vehicles. Should regulators allow “permissionless innovation” or enact rules that require government pre-approval before cars can be deployed? What role should NHTSA play when the technology is still developing and it’s not clear what the right rules will be? How might voluntary guidance from NHTSA work in practice? Adam shares his views on how government can protect public safety while also permitting a nascent industry to develop without stifling innovation. Adam is a Senior Research Fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the
45:48
April 1, 2017