driverless cars

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guitarrista
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Re: driverless cars

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:53 pm

Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:23 pm
Car users will ask:
[...]
Do they promote my independence and autonomy?
Only in North America can this be a legitimate question (and it is - I am not attacking you; it is being asked and you are just reporting it) in this context, given that there is such a thing as public transport. I still don't get how being driven (i.e. depending on it as you are not able to do it yourself in the case of a 80+yr old retiree, say) is going to be seen as being independent, yet using public transport is seen as losing independence and something uncouth.

Public transport also has the huge benefit of high density thus high effectiveness in moving large amounts of people. The autonomous individual car is an iteration in the wrong direction, a very North American idea of unlimited resources and obsession with individual transportation. Unfortunately it is likely to persist, and even worse, extract a lot of concessions and money from cities (i.e. from taxpayers) to make cities even more car-centered.
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Re: driverless cars

Post by simonm » Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:53 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:53 pm
Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:23 pm
Car users will ask:
[...]
Do they promote my independence and autonomy?
Only in North America can this be a legitimate question (and it is - I am not attacking you; ….
Pat is in the UK not North America. :-)

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guitarrista
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Re: driverless cars

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:15 pm

simonm wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:53 pm
guitarrista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:53 pm
Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:23 pm
Car users will ask:
[...]
Do they promote my independence and autonomy?
Only in North America can this be a legitimate question (and it is - I am not attacking you; ….
Pat is in the UK not North America. :-)
Yup as I said, I am not suggesting that he is asking this question; especially since he prefaced the list with "car users will ask" :wink:
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Steve Kutzer
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Steve Kutzer » Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:25 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:22 pm
Andrew Pohlman wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:27 pm
guitarrista wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:27 pm


Nope, autonomous cars are not already here and won't be any time soon. "The engineering behind the scenes has yet to be honed to perfection" - yes, in other words, not ready.

They have fundamental problems which cannot be solved easily. Autonomous cars will be a reality soon only if one redefines "autonomous" to its antonym.

The whole "autonomous cars" movement in North America is perplexing to me as it runs contrary to the deepest held cultural norms around cars and driving them (associated with self-reliance and independence). Basically no one asked for it, no one needs it, but the marketing of the autonomous car concept is pervasive and insistent.
Hiya Guitarista! I understand your perspective, but Uber is testing self driving cars in Arizona.
From the article you link to: "All trips will include two Uber engineers in the front seats as safety drivers, in the event a human needs to take over control from the vehicle’s software."

Like I said, they are autonomous only if that is redefined to mean its opposite.

I don't have strong feelings about this, but have been following the hype. It is still just hype. It doesn't matter if they can drive by themselves 95-99% of the time on roads with clear marking in perfect weather. They have to work without human input 100% of the time or they are useless.
I heard an interesting observation at a conference. Say that driverless cars will decrease overall traffic fatalities, but then a driverless car plows into a kindergarten class. Overall, perhaps many tens of thousands of lives have been saved, but emotionally and politically, a driverless car just killed a bunch of kids.

A fellow at the table said when he was 17, he crested a hill to see a farm tractor out on one side of the road and another car in the opposing lane. He made a spit decision and fortunately nobody was killed. But he wondered how an autonomous car would have decided.

I do think the real challenge will be roadways with a mix of drivers, autonomous, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. If you had dedicated roadways for autonomous, it'd be much simpler. I wonder about converting train tracks to this sort of system?

I still think this is inevitable. The economics behind trucking are going to force the issue. I now see the next advance in aeronautical warfare may be a swarm of drones controlled by a single jet. I can see a caravan of 18 wheelers being led by a single driver. I am still of the belief that my 6 month old grandchildren will never learn to drive.
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Rasputin
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Rasputin » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:53 pm
Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:23 pm
Car users will ask:
[...]
Do they promote my independence and autonomy?
Only in North America can this be a legitimate question (and it is - I am not attacking you; it is being asked and you are just reporting it) in this context, given that there is such a thing as public transport. I still don't get how being driven (i.e. depending on it as you are not able to do it yourself in the case of a 80+yr old retiree, say) is going to be seen as being independent, yet using public transport is seen as losing independence and something uncouth.
I would have thought that it promotes your independence and autonomy because it is available on demand and takes you directly where you want to go. It means that you are not tied down to someone else's schedule and route, as you are with public transport, and that you don't have to change.

This doesn't apply only to North America, and it's not only in North America that public transport is often seen as a bit a dirty or uncouth. In the UK people call buses peasant wagons and the received wisdom is that there's a nutter on every one. Trains are not necessarily much better and can be seriously overcrowded. No matter where you are in the world, I think people would rather have their own private space where they are not being sneezed on, gurned at, or worse. I'm quite sure that elderly relatives of mine in the UK would think it was legitimate to ask whether driverless cars gave them more independence than the public transport system.
Public transport also has the huge benefit of high density thus high effectiveness in moving large amounts of people. The autonomous individual car is an iteration in the wrong direction, a very North American idea of unlimited resources and obsession with individual transportation. Unfortunately it is likely to persist, and even worse, extract a lot of concessions and money from cities (i.e. from taxpayers) to make cities even more car-centered.
Compared to what, though. Surely the driverless car model (yes I know it is some way off, but I think is coming) means fewer cars on the road, fewer RTA casualties, less congestion and less pollution than the existing model. It may not be as good from a social planning point of view as an enforced public transport system, but we are not in the USSR and individual preferences have to count for something. I don't see a preference for individual transport as a North American quirk, more like human nature.

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Re: driverless cars

Post by Pat Dodson » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:46 pm

simonm wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 5:53 pm
guitarrista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:53 pm
Pat Dodson wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:23 pm
Car users will ask:
[...]
Do they promote my independence and autonomy?
Only in North America can this be a legitimate question (and it is - I am not attacking you; ….
Pat is in the UK not North America. :-)
Yep! :) Public transport is splendid but in many rural parts of the UK public transport really isn’t viable for making journey’s to town, local shops, doctors etc (and shops and doctors are often only available in town.) The village where my wife is church warden has one bus through it per day. One! One way the 7 miles to town. No bus returns to the village! The closest it gets is 3 miles away which is hopeless for the elderly, young families or the infirm.
Last edited by Pat Dodson on Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

simonm
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Re: driverless cars

Post by simonm » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:55 pm

Steve Kutzer wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:25 pm
A fellow at the table said when he was 17, he crested a hill to see a farm tractor out on one side of the road and another car in the opposing lane. He made a spit decision and fortunately nobody was killed. But he wondered how an autonomous car would have decided.
The autonomous car would not be driving up to the crest of a hill at the speed an inexperienced 17 was likely driving at, and the vehicle would very likely be in communication with the car on the other side of the hill in any case. Inter-vehicle communication may not be operative in the current generation of vehicles but will be before long. (Not that many countries allow 17 year olds to drive anyway although the safety record of males under 23 is probably not a huge amount better).

In Germany on the main autobahns the truck traffic already resembles a train. You often see groups of 10 or more trucks (i.e. semi-trailer rigs) one behind the other looking for all the world like a cargo train. I travelled one particular stretch of autobahn a lot in the last few months and my estimate is that there are about 10 trucks per km at any one time and usually in bunches. When you see them like that you have to ask yourself if there is any point in the world to have 10 drivers in what is essentially a 10 wagon train. If they were driven by a computer you could have them even closer together which would save fuel and if the system was keeping an eye on the traffic you could optimize the speed of "train" to minimize braking and optimize fuel consumption over the whole day. The truck companies would love it as the computer wouldn't be obliged to take breaks and the vehicle could be used for more hours in the day. Commercial vehicles have plenty of management electronics in place already so the bigger companies would not be in the least bit concerned about the switch over. However the price would have to be right. Many distance trucks in Europe are driven by drivers from the low wage countries in the East. Bulgarian, Rumanian, Baltic states registrations as extremely common across the continent on the tractor units so that will slow the adoption a little.

For many of my recent trips I would have loved to have been able to "hitch a ride" with such a convoy - i.e. link my control system (if I had one) and just let the car tag along at the same speed as the trucks in their train. It would be relaxing and as there are so many road works and traffic jams on the stretch I usually drive it would in the long run be almost as fast. The no speed limit autobahn is largely a myth these days. I would say that on 30-40% of the 100km stretch I use most there is an 80km speed limit due to road works. I often switch to the country roads as they are pleasanter and there is really not much of difference in the total trip time.

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 pm

In the UK people call buses peasant wagons and the received wisdom is that there's a nutter on every one. Trains are not necessarily much better and can be seriously overcrowded …
Oh dear me. The UK tourist boards are not going to like you!

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guitarrista
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Re: driverless cars

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:05 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 pm
It may not be as good from a social planning point of view as an enforced public transport system, but we are not in the USSR and individual preferences have to count for something. I don't see a preference for individual transport as a North American quirk, more like human nature.
Ugh.. who are you arguing with about enforced public transport and how did discussing the drawbacks of "autonomous cars" get us to USSR (that's a rhetorical question)? What a rank non-sequitur; no one is forcing you into anything.
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Rasputin » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:14 pm

simonm wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:55 pm
Oh dear me. The UK tourist boards are not going to like you!
:lol:

It honestly baffles me why anyone would come to England as a tourist. I once met a guy from a fairly poor country who had saved up for about 10 years to visit Upton Park. I couldn't look him in the eye. There is some beautiful scenery here and there, it's true, but it soon gets old when it's raining, and it's practically always raining.

As a place to live, well, that's a different matter...

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Re: driverless cars

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:18 pm

Without copy/pasting giant walls of text from above, I would like to address the autonomy issues versus public transport.

Real life example in the SF Bay Area - if I drive to work, it takes 40 mins one way. Public transport = 2.5 hours, or 5 hours round trip time to commute. In a self driving car, that 80 mins per day could be spent doing all manner of things not associated with focus on the road. During the 5 hours of public transport time, I could possibly read, maybe work on my tablet, but practice my instrument? Not even. Sleep? Not that either because there are wild gangs of adolescents who attack BART riders (see recent news). Furthermore, a self driving electric vehicle could drop me off, find a charging station, take itself to a car wash, and pick me up ready to go, thus freeing me from mundane tasks.

When I was in Munchen, public transportation is far better. We got to the Andechs monastery and many other places easily. I can also agree that inside SF city, public transport is very efficient. So timed saved is less of an argument in an urban setting. Not so for the vast majority of Americans who live in suburban environments.

It's great to see the diversity of opinion on this topic! There is no doubt in my mind that this will play out really well. Just like the Internet, we won't to go back. Do you guys as old as me remember the days of card catalogues and the periodical section of the library? When "cut/paste" was literal? I'm not going back to the "old days". The new ways are so much better!
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Rasputin
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Rasputin » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:27 pm

guitarrista wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:05 pm
Rasputin wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:28 pm
It may not be as good from a social planning point of view as an enforced public transport system, but we are not in the USSR and individual preferences have to count for something. I don't see a preference for individual transport as a North American quirk, more like human nature.
Ugh.. who are you arguing with about enforced public transport and how did discussing the drawbacks of "autonomous cars" get us to USSR (that's a rhetorical question)? What a rank non-sequitur; no one is forcing you into anything.
The logic was that your observation that the question could only be legitimate in North America only works if you assume either that in other places there is a public transport system that is so good that folks would choose it over a driverless car option - which is not the case in the UK for the reasons I gave - or that they have no choice. Otherwise the relevant comparison is with individual human driven cars, and I would have thought (but of course it's an empirical question and I may be wrong) that the driverless option is better by the criteria you mention. The reference to the USSR was meant to suggest that those criteria give too little weight to individual preferences. The idea of being driven around by Big Brother is pretty USSR-eque to me.

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Re: driverless cars

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:31 pm

Andrew Pohlman wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:18 pm
So timed saved is less of an argument in an urban setting. Not so for the vast majority of Americans who live in suburban environments.
Yup.
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:57 pm

Here is an article that reinforces what guitarista was saying, with the notable push by tech companies to change the law to eliminate the human "safety" driver behind the wheel. It's a really good read and underscores some of the debate in this thread. They also point out that the proposed legal changes in CA are still open for public comment until 10/25/17. So if you live in sunny CA, and feel strongly about autonomous cars, now is your chance to speak up and possibly affect the laws.
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: driverless cars

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:07 pm

This video came up on the BBC news site today. A little way in and the driver switches to 'autonomous' mode. Then he sits behind the wheel while the car takes over. I still don't get it. He's sitting there, he's watching the road, why not just drive the car manually? What's the point of it?

sorry, forgot to put the link!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/technology ... rless-cars

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Re: driverless cars

Post by MessyTendon » Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:21 am

The point is that big brother will watch all of us.

Now the real point...I can enjoy a nice gin and tonic in traffic.

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