Self driving cars

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Re: Self driving cars

Postby thewalrus » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:07 pm

In any case - to the general topic - I was actually just having a beer with a friend of mine last night. He's in the property development field, and the subject turned to self driving cars.

He's seeing a major switch happening in 10 years. Maybe a little longer. Apparently propertly developers are already turning some preliminary thoughts to what community design might look like in a world where most of the vehicles on the road drive themselves (some initial conclusions trend towards car ownership becoming less important, public transit being less required, electric vehicles vehicles becoming more prevalent). He also pointed to Uber as being the first step in the journey - one company that owns thousands of these self driving cars. You order one up. It shows up at your door step minutes later, you program your destination, and you're off. You essentially rent it for a day, a week, a month... for whatever price. And apparently that's already starting to happen in Pittsburgh (of all places) ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomo ... 2d6b7b6472 )

I came away pretty pessimistic about how much longer it'll be feasible to have driven cars on the road. I was thinking 20 years. At least. From what I'm hearing from him - and he pays a lot of attention to this kind of stuff, for work and personal interest reasons - I think it'll be quite a bit quicker than that.
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby sombrio » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:05 pm

After talking with my wife and reviewing the statistics, it looks like fatalities, at least, are far more common in rural areas. So, I believe you. Maybe the city traffic keeps people on their toes. I still don't get it but I'm trying to wrap my mind around you being right.

Your last post is especially depressing and the lack of theology and geometry in modern automotive life has caused my valve to slam shut in protest.
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby thewalrus » Thu Sep 08, 2016 10:13 pm

sombrio wrote:After talking with my wife and reviewing the statistics, it looks like fatalities, at least, are far more common in rural areas. So, I believe you. Maybe the city traffic keeps people on their toes. I still don't get it but I'm trying to wrap my mind around you being right.

Your last post is especially depressing and the lack of theology and geometry in modern automotive life has caused my valve to slam shut in protest.


I think there's a couple reasons behind it all.

1. I think the stats are likely a little bit skewed by the fact that drivers in rural areas spend more time on highways at higher speeds, and further from hospitals and emergency rooms. All that ads up, in my opinion, to a greater chance of a fatality in the event of an accident. Here in the city, when you're in an accident, it's usually at lower speeds, ambulances are usually there in minutes, and hospitals are short trips away. The roads are also, usually, less well maintained. Especially in winter conditions, which almost certainly increases the risk of a serious accident.

2. I do, still, think that the quality of driving is lower. I suspect this has a lot to do with driver education. In rural areas people learn to drive at super-young ages. I have a cousin who was driving on the highway at 10. Kids are almost always bombing around in trucks and jeeps as soon as they're able to reach the pedals. Or even sooner. I don't doubt that there is some benefit to learning to control a vehicle at a young age. But I think this does, also, reinforce some really bad habits. Bad habits that make a signifiant difference when they try to drive in a city, as opposed to a relatively sparsely populated rural area. One of the worst, of course, is drinking and driving. Not only is it not taboo in a lot of these rural areas - it's a common part of daily life. How far you can drive after how many beers is a matter of... almost pride (amongst the worst offenders). It's so bad that when I drive in rural areas I usually try to be off the roads before midnight.

3. Playing social-psychologist for a bit. I think that people in rural areas are typically more likely to reject social norms and laws that are seen as overly regulatory (speed limits, traffic safety laws, environmental regulations etc.). I take this from my own experience with my Mom's half of the family which all grew up in rural Saskatchewan. There is a very real undercurrent of self-sufficiency and individualism that results in a rejection of rules and laws in preference for common sense, and self-confidence. The 'I'm a good driver, so I can (a) speed, (b) tailgate, (c) merge without signaling (d) pass on the right, etc. etc'. I trust myself, in other words, to know what I can do and when I can't do it, so I can decide when and where I obey traffic laws. The same phenomenon is found with environmental regulations - I know my land, you don't. So I know how much I can hunt, where I can deposit trash, where I can shoot my guns, which rivers I can re-route, and so on and so forth.

This isn't an entirely bad perspective to have - it's admirable in a lot of ways - self sufficiency and reliance should be applauded. But when it's taken to extremes, it can result in a chaos on a broader scale - and we see that a lot in environmental matters.
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby sombrio » Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:51 pm

Yeah, I think you're right on all those points. I was also wondering if possibly an urban environment skews things toward more, non-fatal crashes. With a ton of cars around you're more likely to hit something, but (a) less likely to be traveling at life-threatening speed in the first place and (b) more likely to have a more "harmless" crash (with other vehicles, scraping along a wall, etc.) than in rural areas where you're more likely to just go skidding out of control into a tree or over a cliff or something. I don't know if that's a real factor but it seems like it'd be logical. Cities have idiots turning into each other at 30 mph. Rural areas have idiots going 70 mph, losing control and hitting something head-on.

In your area of course you've also got a lot more weather, which has to play some role even when adjusting for drivers being used to it...
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby the_edge » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:30 pm

Self driving cars may bring a new great depression, I feel.

A couple years ago I read an article regarding the destruction of jobs and the creation of new ones. Kodak had just filed for bankruptcy back then (I believe the did come out of it later though?) and at the same time instagram had done something big (IPO? Something like that). They article detailed how Kodak had 2000 employees when it was about to close, while instragram (some sort of "spiritual successor" that represents technology associated with pictures, as opposed to old school kodak which was about regular pictures) only had 200.

Basically the point of the article was how some naive, or hyper-optimistic or plain dishonest people argue that it's ok for certain technological advancements to wipe out existing jobs, since they're creating new ones, but in reality the newer jobs are less numerous and way more technical.

But back to self driving cars, I read somewhere else that each truck driver job supported around 7 other jobs. It makes sense to me, if you think about it, these guys use gas stations, truck stop restaurants, road side hotels, bars, etc, that nobody else uses, since they're driving across the country. That means people who pump gas, waitresses, cooks, hotel keepers, etc all depend on truck drivers stopping by. To that I'd add the fact that taxi drivers, limo drivers, personal drivers, etc, all make a living out of driving too. What's going to happen when all these millions of truck, cab, limo and black car drivers are out of a job?

That alarming thought may only be scratching the surface. A second degree or revenue loss is the fact thar regular gas stations, smaller mechanic shops (and maybe even places like Pep Boys and Jiffy Lube), car wash places, etc, all may be out of business once nobody truly owns a car and all we have is a fleet of land drones that act like Johnny Cab.

And a 3rd degree of revenue loss is the fact that DMV's would close (jobs! fees!). Traffic ticket revenue would disappear. Car personal property tax? Gone! Vehicle decal fee? Gone!

Sure, a couple jobs will be created, the kind of job some kid offshore will be doing while he programs an iPhone game on the side. That will not offset all of the above.... yeah I'm worried.
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby thewalrus » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:32 pm

sombrio wrote:
In your area of course you've also got a lot more weather, which has to play some role even when adjusting for drivers being used to it...


Oh, it absolutely does. And you'd be surprised at how long it takes people to re-learn how to drive in icy and snowy conditions. Some never adjust.

One of my favorite examples was driving north from Lethbridge to Edmonton. Absolutley treatcherous conditions. Incredibly easy to slide off. So we're driving along at a safe rate of speed, and you'd see people blowing by you. Eventually one of them would hit a patch of ice and spin off. Everyone would slow down to a crawal for 5, 10 minutes. Then slowly increase speed - back up to the fair-weather limit. And then, once again, another would spin off or hit the ditch or collide with another car, and everyone would slow down... for 5 or 10 minutes.

This happened the entire trip. I remember counting the number of times I saw some jack-ass in a truck, or SUV, or Audi, blow by me, only to see him sideways on the side of the road, looking dejected, 10 kilometers later. It was well into the double digits.
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Re: Self driving cars

Postby the_edge » Wed Sep 14, 2016 2:11 pm

thewalrus wrote:
sombrio wrote:
In your area of course you've also got a lot more weather, which has to play some role even when adjusting for drivers being used to it...


Oh, it absolutely does. And you'd be surprised at how long it takes people to re-learn how to drive in icy and snowy conditions. Some never adjust.

.


Oh hi! :mrgreen:
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