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Automated vehicles - how soon is now?

Discussion in 'science, nature and environment' started by Cloo, Jun 19, 2017.


Automated vehicles, what's the most likely scenario?

  1. Wide scale use within ten years

    14 vote(s)
  2. Will take another generation to reach mass use

    9 vote(s)
  3. Haulage will pick it up before private vehicle use in next decade or so

    6 vote(s)
  4. It'll be totally scuppered by something or other and never happen

    4 vote(s)
  5. It'll happen but capitalism will fuck it up and render it pretty crap

    2 vote(s)
  6. Some other outcome

    2 vote(s)
  1. Cloo

    Cloo U R dOin me a friTen

    Not sure what the best forum is, but thought I'd try here.

    I was initially a bit 'meh' on why anyone seemed excited about self-driving vehicles. I thought 'OK, so you can do stuff while being driven somewhere'. My view changed a bit when my mum was diagnosed with epilepsy and couldn't drive for a year and I realised what a game changer it could be for older and disabled people. Then, through work I read a lot about implications for how we build cities, creating more open space etc and got fairly excited.

    It seems like a positive thing to me, potentially, although more cautious discussions have mentioned it could just cause a new traffic problem of empty vehicles all over the place looking for their next passenger. I also wonder how easily people can be drawn away from having their own car. I personally wouldn't give a shit, to me a car is just a thing that gets you somewhere, but I do know that a lot of people find their own car an important part of their identity and might be very unwilling to get rid of it.

    Also, people are not at all logical... even if you were to tell people automated vehicles were, say, 90% safer than humans, many people would still go 'Ahhh, but there was this accident with one of them the other day, so they're not at all safe!' And then you have issues like fucking Trump who probably has mates in the car business who would rather keep the status quo. I do wonder whether developing countries, and China, could leapfrog everywhere else in automated vehicles because they'll be more 'Fuck yeah, let's do it'? And there's increasing demand for vehicles without a historic baseline of people owning them.

    Are AVs a good idea? What is the development path likely to be if they happen and what are the biggest barriers?

    I think it will be another generation really before they could gain mass appeal - on paper, it could, I imagine, happen in a few years' time, but I think people will probably obstruct that on the whole.
    UnderAnOpenSky likes this.
  2. Idaho

    Idaho blah blah blah

    I have a bet with my 12 year old daughter that she won't learn to drive. That in 6 years she would rather spend the money on a car club membership that will get her wherever she wants to go.
  3. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    They already exist in limited environments, and there is a huge amount of money behind the technology, which is improving at an incredible rate. My kids will never learn to drive for sure, but I think it's coming sooner than that.
    existentialist and Cloo like this.
  4. Cloo

    Cloo U R dOin me a friTen

    I'd like to think it's coming soon, but never underestimate people's resistance to change, especially when there is potential risk involved and when people are dreadful at sensibly assessing what is acceptable (as in they generally expect anything new to be 100% safe or else it's dangerous). But yes, I suspect my kids will not learn to drive. They are already horrified whenever gsv or I drive them anywhere new without using the satnav :eek:
    Almor likes this.
  5. Sea Star

    Sea Star undead undead undead

    As I understand it, in certain situations an AV will need to hand control back to the human operator - maybe not for ever but I think it'd be incredibly optimistic to think that someone who can't drive at all will be able to use AVs safely within ten years, and maybe never. I personally still think people will be learning to drive for some time, until we can be absolutely certain that no one will ever be required to put an AV into human operation mode.
  6. Crispy

    Crispy The following psytrance is baṉned: All

    It doesn't have to get that far before it's not worth learning to drive. If an automated car can do 95% of your trips and then you have to pay someone/drive yourself/use public transport for the other 5% it'll still be worth it.
  7. Sea Star

    Sea Star undead undead undead

    but the 5% would be unexpected situations that you couldn't possibly plan for - so you'd never know when you had to drive.

    eta, and it doesn;t matter if its 5%, or 1% or 0.01% - i think as long as the possibitlity exists i think its going to be really hard to justify allowing non-qualified people to be in charge of AVs.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
    Spymaster and weltweit like this.
  8. Cloo

    Cloo U R dOin me a friTen

    I guess my main concern about AVs is not their safety when they work as they are supposed to, which should be much better than humans' safety record, but whether they are hackable, as that could be serious bad news.
  9. ferrelhadley

    ferrelhadley These violent delights have violent ends.

    All fun and games till your car tells you you have a dodgy radio antenna when you are in the arse end of nowhere and when you try get back in after checking it, it starts giving you the "Sorry Dave, I cant do that ..." patter.
  10. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    It might be nice if one is overtired or otherwise incapacitated to be able to say to your car "home James!" and for it to take you home but I am a bit of a sceptic on the safety front.

    There was a Tesla on a US motorway on autopilot and it failed to see a truck turning in front of it and drove straight under the trailer killing the occupant without once touching the brakes.

    Automatic cars will only be as safe as their stored maps, the design of their sensing systems and their traffic interaction rules.

    Some see a utopia of shared automatic car access, I think we are not quite there yet.
  11. trashpony

    trashpony Never knowingly underawed

    I'm hopeful. My son is way too dyspraxic to be able to co-ordinate himself enough to drive so we both have our fingers crossed they'll be on the roads by the time he's old enough to get about on his own
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
    Cloo likes this.
  12. Cloo

    Cloo U R dOin me a friTen

    Sure, there will be accidents, though my understanding is that in terms of miles driven they are already safer than humans, and I guess unlike humans, they can collectively learn and all upgrade if and when something happens. IIRC, the truck incident was because it was a bright day and it could distinguish the white trailer from brightly lit open sky.

    As well as the actual driving and safety, of course, there is the whole economy of it to be considered which I find fascinating, and presumably it's the tech companies that will take the lead on that. Some accounts I have read suggest that a more multi-passenger model is the way to go to avoid empty-vehicle congestion. It presents us with the option of something much more affordable than owning and insuring your own vehicle, but 'good value' is rarely an aim with new ideas like this, so I fear it being prohibitive for some people or at least setting up a very two-tier system of good AVs and crappier ones.
  13. Sea Star

    Sea Star undead undead undead

    I get car sick when I'm not driving so this really isn't going to work for me.
  14. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    No one is calling them scab taxis yet then?
    Crispy likes this.
  15. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    My understanding was that it was equipped with Radar which is not fooled by brightness. If it was just relying on optical sensing I would definitely not trust it an inch and certainly not with my and or other people's lives.
  16. ferrelhadley

    ferrelhadley These violent delights have violent ends.

    Lidar. Using a laser to make a map of the world around you.
  17. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    Trucks crossing its path on a bright day would seem a weak spot in Lidar's performance then.
  18. UnderAnOpenSky

    UnderAnOpenSky baseline neural therapy

    I'm guessing the haulage industry is rubbing its hands at the idea. Truck's that don't need drivers. No wages. No need to stop for them to sleep.
    Almor, Idaho and weltweit like this.
  19. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Most discussion of AVs is weighed down by a load of assumptions based on the current model of car usage and ownership. I encourage you to think about it more broadly and radically.

    AVs mean cars-as-a-service - not having to own them, not having to keep them, not even having to charge electric ones on or near your property. They come, they go, you pay for your usage under whatever model you like. That will pretty quickly change how people feel about paying to semi-permanently own a lump of metal that spends the vast majority of its time sat about.
    coley, Almor, 2hats and 4 others like this.
  20. ferrelhadley

    ferrelhadley These violent delights have violent ends.

    4 seat or 1 seat.
    That said the economic implications are incredible and often not good. Without a universal basic income it would be a disaster for society.
    Cloo likes this.
  21. Cloo

    Cloo U R dOin me a friTen

    And that's a right fucker because, IIRC, truck driving (in US at least) is about the best paid 'unskilled' job around, and employs a lot of people. Though some are suggesting they'd still be needed on board in some respect or retrain in logistics-related skills.
    Almor and UnderAnOpenSky like this.
  22. High Voltage

    High Voltage Bring on t'dancing girls & put t'champagne on ice

    They'd better not happen before we can get fibre broadband AND a decent mobile phone signal - you can get 4g on the top of Everest but we're lucky to get g where we currently live
    Cloo and PursuedByBears like this.
  23. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Their arrival seems inevitable but there is an old adage that technological change takes longer to arrive than people think but then happens faster and with a bigger impact than people expect. It took 20 years for mobile phones to go from initial arrival to mass use, then they changed the world in 5 years.

    There's a lot of legacy infrastructure with cars. When I buy one, for example, I expect to own it for 10-15 years at least. And there is a long lead time on building up rival AV infrastructure. There's, what, something like 30m cars in the UK? Ballpark, anyway. You don't replace that in 5 years.
    Sea Star, Cloo and UnderAnOpenSky like this.
  24. dylanredefined

    dylanredefined Not a house elf a tiger

    That's why the US army are funding the research.
  25. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    You're probably the outlier here. I don't know, but I suspect it's now arranged into three strong groups: the PCPers and so on, who own from new until 3 or 4, the nearly-newers who own it from then until another 3-4 years on, and then the bangernomicists who own nearly-dead cars, not trying very hard to keep them alive, until they do indeed die.

    The older model of buying a new car once every decade is, I suspect, long diminished.
  26. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    The average car spends 95% of the time sitting unused. Large passenger planes on the other hand tend to spend more than half their life in the air.
    coley, Cloo and mauvais like this.
  27. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    5% is still 72 minutes driving a day. I'm guessing the overall average is a lot less than that, even.
  28. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    I don't have the statistics one way or other. In my particular bubble, however, I'm pretty typical. Not that I think my bubble is the norm.
    Badgers likes this.
  29. bi0boy

    bi0boy Power User

    Most may do that to work and back. Add in OAPs who go to the shops once a week and sales reps and taxi drivers who may spend 8 hours a day or more and 95% seems reasonable.

    Anyway that figure seems to come from the US, but is broadly similar in other countries:

    "Cars are parked 95% of the time". Let's check! ~ Reinventing Parking
  30. beesonthewhatnow

    beesonthewhatnow going deaf for a living

    Legal arguments will hold them back long after the technology is sorted.

    And the transition phase will be a logistical headache.

    I'm not betting on my kids never learning to drive just yet.
    Sea Star, Duncan2, Cloo and 1 other person like this.

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