In pursuance of a couple of comments and the post over at ZH http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-09/second-order-consequences-self-driving-vehicles
If this is an example of an educated and intelligent article, I’d sure hate to have to read a dumb one.
Invoking Sagan again, one of the problems is that people commenting and making laws know nothing about vehicles, holding a driving licence doesn’t make you an expert, even if you can quote top gear style specs and numbers about why one car is “better” than another.
IN the 21st century one of the ways you monetise things is to make them unique, and not standard, which is why the new Triumph Bobber has a new and unique rear tyre size, which is why just about every car on the road has a unique tyre size, which is why newly released models often have brand new unique tyre sizes.
From the engineering perspective there is precisely zero justification, one 12″ rim size, one 14″ rim size, one 16″ rim size and one 18″ rim size would cover 99.9% of automobiles, yes, just 4 universal tyre sizes would cover 99.9% of automobiles, and to stop this post being 30,000 words long just let me say that if you dispute this then you lack the engineering background to have a valid opinion.
Within each of these 4 tyre sizes you could have some variations, the 16″ Kumho for the budget minded, the 16″ Metzeler for the performance minded, the 16″ Dunlop for light vans and so on.
Maserati would ship alloy wheels, Ford would ship steel wheels…
Of course all of these standard wheels would also have standard stud sizes and placement, fuck it, it’s good enough for light bulbs and spark plugs and tyre inflators and CD sizes and mains plugs and screw threads and everything else on the planet designed to be interoperable, as opposed to everything on the planet designed to not be interoperable.
Just recently I waited until the MOT to decide to buy four new tyres for the old Volvo estate car I own, because they won’t fit the Kia estate car that I own, so if I purchased them before and the car failed the MOT badly I’m the owner of 4 brand new tyres on a scrap car.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with the “freedom” we have in which manufacturers can create artificial scarcity in this way and sell it as individuality, I’m merely making a point.
Because it leads nicely into the point that driverless cars (and all the tesla autopilot youtube vids) all talk about exactly the same thing, one human being on a commute to work.
Sure, lots of people do that, *lots* of people, but the fact remains none of them know anything about other road users, so they see everyone else as a “driver” just like them, and every other driving task as a commute just like theirs.
Go ahead, get rid of the fucking monkey in the truck cab, I dare you to be the first or second or tenth company to do it, because you’ll cease trading, and shortly after you’ll discover that the actual driving was the least of the jobs the fucking monkey did… if you doubt me go find a trucker on a break, buy him a coffee and ask him to list the things a computer behind the wheel cannot do that he has to do… his break will end before he has even gotten started.
That robot going to ratchet strap down the load? Going to couple and uncouple the trailer? Going to fuel the vehicle and do tyre and chassis checks? Going to close and seal the curtainsides? Going to connect and disconnect the hoses for tankers? Going to load and unload a bulk tipper? Going to eyeball the ground and see where to drive and see where to place the hiab pads for construction?
Sure, there are technological solutions for all of these, and by the time you’ve implemented them your 250,000 buck rig has turned into a 2.5 million buck rig, with a zillion more things to go wrong, and who is going to pay for it?
You going to have robots changing flats beside the road?
You going to have robots driving recovery vehicles and loading other robot cars when they break down?
You going to have a robot driving a police car? or a Fire engine? or an ambulance? You going to have robots driving cash and bullion around? You going to have robots securing the load of VSOP brandy and 80″ TV’s from thieves?
Until you perfect that the robots running driverless commuter cars have to deal with all of the above…. and there is the problem.
It’s shades of the old joke about the irish deciding to switch to driving on the right to be in line with the rest of europe, next week all the cars will start driving on the right, and if that works then a couple of weeks later the buses and lorries will drive on the right too.
Without in any way whatsoever wishing to minimise the technical achievements of Tesla and their autopilot, you only have to look at computer security to know that collision avoidance is one of the simpler challenges, onstar and other systems have already been remotely hacked live on video and instructions sent to brakes and steering and ECU, and this is still in the realms of child’s play, even when it comes to remote assassination, it’s still child’s play.
Many years ago I saw a demonstration of hypnosis, it was very interesting, it involved three chairs in a line, and the subject being told that only the outer two existed, which they agreed with, there were only two chairs in the room, yet when told to go from one chair to another they detoured around the non-existent chair rather than walk into it and trip over, the really interesting part was the explanations for the detour when asked, everything from outright denial that there was a detour, to “I just didn’t feel like walking in a straight line, my bum is sore”
A computer however will intimately believe anything it is told, and it will totally disregard any input that says differently, today we have CNC machines that cost more than new trucks, and guess what the operators main job is?
To prevent “machine crashes” which is one part of the machine moving in a way that interferes or intersects with something else in ways that things break or get bent and twisted.
Put all autonomous vehicles on the road and it will be a matter of weeks before griefers set up cameras to catch the twelve johnnycabs all trying to park in the same space, or to drive down the causeway when then tide is in, or to endlessly circle a roundabout and block all other traffic from entering it, or to drive line abreast down a motorway at 7 mph, the possibilities are endless, and you don’t even need to be in the same country to do it.
Truck BGD54FD6 you are not travelling at 90 mph down the motorway, you are talking to forklift JUG%&$$ so open curtainsides and use motorised floor to deploy palettes in bays 3 5 9 and 10 sideways 1 metre.
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Yesterday I updated both the main PC and the headless NAS box from Win10 to the latest Win10 insider, it went Ok on the main PC, reboots three times then asks me to click a bunch of shit and login, the headless NAS box just sits there, so I have to connect a keyboard and monitor and click through until I can RDP and deploy O&O’s OOSU10.exe to disable all the telemetry and tracking.
When it comes to vehicles code and firmware is something that is locked down, you can’t just update it yourself to fix bugs and create new ones, it’s factory tech only stuff, so like John Deere (very very very close to autonomous vehicles at the high end of the product scale) you get a situation where the vehicle stops working until you get the factory tech out, because your 12 month software licence has expired, and it’s only tens of thousands of dollars to get a tech out to approve you changing the headlamp bulb or oil yourself, so what happens, everyone is buying dodgy software from the east for a few hundred bucks that bypasses the factory shit and resets stuff any way you like.
A “tuner” nowadays is someone who looks at a spreadsheet and alters individual cells and then re-uploads it.
People routinely game the systems they have now to get 5 bhp more or make the courtesy lights flash or stay on 10 seconds longer etc.
You think they aren’t going to game the systems on autonomous cars to make them accelerate 0.01 seconds after the light goes green, or to put the hammer down if they are within 100 metres of a light that goes red, or disable the subroutine that looks for double yellow lines and no parking signs so that the car will stop where they want…
Let’s not forget who owns Tesla’s now, forget the whole early adopter thing, these aren’t people at the cutting edge, these are primarily people who are WEALTHY enough to not have to do basic TCO per mile travelled math.
I know there is an argument that what is new in todays S class Mercedes becomes standard in a Ford in 15 years time, and it is a valid argument as far as it goes, but the fact is that like living in London or DC and thinking you know about socio-econo-politico stuff country wide is a fallacy, it’s also a fallacy to assume that this drip down shit covers 99% of the population.
I drive a car I paid £600 for two years ago, it was old then but it does everything every other car on the road does, and it does it just as well.
Before that was an old W124 merc diesel I paid £700 for, before than was an old Renault diesel I paid £450 for, before than an old pug diesel I paid £375 for, and we are back about 15 years now.
I don’t have any huge love of diesels over petrol, but if a diesel starts easily and quietly cold there ain’t that much wrong with it, and all of these cars are of the type where the diesel is simpler than the petrol version, no HT systems, no plugs, no dizzy, not talking this modern common rail diesel crap.
My old volvo diesel doesn’t have adaptive cruise control, which is a toy that I do like, nevertheless I am able to maintain a constant speed on the roads (something few others seem capable of) and I can stay within my lane with out weaving (ditto) without lane assist and I can park (ditto) without park assist, and I can take away on a slope without hill assist, I can remember to turn the lights on when it gets dark and the wiper on when it gets wet.
I’ve been running “500 quid bangers” for twenty years, and never broken down, and yet I do an average amount of private mileage, and I know everyone claims they are a great driver, but I am smooth, smooth enough other drivers who can’t ever sleep in a car fall asleep in mine and wake up two hours later one mile from their destination, and as anyone who can actually drive knows, smooth is not slow.
I can drive because I understand the mechanical elements of a car, the clutch plate pressure determines the amount of torque being transmitted, not the engine rpm, and because I have never been so wealthy as to see a car as a disposable item like a bic lighter, and because to me a car that I cannot get in to in 2 minutes and drive 1000 miles if need be is fucking useless to me.
You see how I differ from the Tesla owner.
I used to run a blog years ago, it was a technical blog, it eventually died a death because nobody is technical and nobody wants to hear physical law and fact and science.
Back then I stated that (from memory) 25 kwh per person per diem was the *minimum* energy budget for civilisation, and when you looked at petrol and diesel and domestic mains gas and domestic electric and off peak electric used to charge lead acid batteries overnight that were inverted back to mains power for daytime consumption, it was all pretty much even, a kwh of energy cost you around 10p, and in fact it did not make any difference what form you bought it in, and that make perfect sense, if mains gas was 2p per kwh just buy a propane diesel gen set and sell electric back to the grid, or charge you batteries overnight at off peak rates and invert it and sell it back at daytime rates.
Don’t forget I gre up off grid with gas fridges and so on.
None of these proposals were break even.
Diesel is a shit way to power a radio, mains gas is a shit way to power a food mixer, mains electric is a shit way to etc etc etc.
I also went into some details about the essential differences between a fuel, and energy source, and an energy storage system.
Wood, coal and diesel are fuels.
Hydrogen and solar and energy sources.
Batteries capacitors flywheels and dams are energy storage systems.
If it’s a mechanical thing like a saw or a lathe, and it is static, electricity from the mains is a no brainer way to power it.
If it’s a mobile thing like a truck, then it needs to run either directly from a fuel or from an energy storage system that is as energy dense as fuel, clue, there aren’t any.
NOTHING in an autonomous vehicle is inherently going to make it more energy efficient than a traditional vehicle like my 15 year old volvo diesel.
NOTHING in an autonomous vehicle system is inherently going to make it a safer or a better driver than me.
NOTHING in an autonomous vehicle system is inherently open to influence from personal injury, personal financial losses, or personal liberty losses.
NOTHING in an autonomous vehicle system is inherently open to self improvement, experience based learning, training or situational awareness adaptation (fuck me that truck driver is on the pavement mowing down peds)
Railways are a case in point, at a stroke they remove 99% of the issues that face a vehicle that never leaves tarmac, there is no steering wheel, no merging, no random last minute opportunistic journeys to the beach or the shop for more mile before it closes, so when the railways are 100% autonomous you may have somewhere to go, but they will be like the CNC machine for airplanes, they will have SKILLED, TRAINED, SPECIALIST operators.
WITHOUT EXCEPTION, every single “problem” facing road traffic today could be cured before the end of 2017, the modern GPS linked tacho in every vehicle, download it once a week or face a fine of 50,000 dollars and licence suspension, the downloaded data is analysed, you did 38 mph in a 20, instant fine and points, sorry buddy, your smartcard licence isn’t being renewed this week, so NO vehicle will start for you.
Note *EXTREMELY* well that without exception autonomous CARS are being marketed, not autonomous driving robots that you can pull like a cartridge from one vehicle and plug into any other vehicle.
This is tyres all over again.
So, as always (same as Trumps latest shit in Syria) if you want to know what is going down look at ACTIONS and FOLLOW THE FUCKING MONEY, own a Tesla, only Tesla can work on it, and you “own” it the same way you “own” an iPhone, eg you don’t, you have a licence that the actual owner can revoke on a whim, and meantime your ass just got monetised.
Monetary streams DO get mandated in law to protect and support them, look at obummercare for a great example, or simple taxation to feed the state, here in the UK we have fuel duty and vehicle excise duty and road tax and parking permits and all the rest of it, and insurance (why would anyone need insurance for an autonomous car, they aren’t the fucking driver, and if it is under licence like Tesla, they aren’t the fucking owner either) none of which gets spent on the fucking roads…
So places like Londonistan with it’s congestion zones and relative wealth is ideal autonomous car territory, you can tax the fuck out of everyone else to make them seem more economically viable, hell, the world’s older by several decades 100% pure electric vehicle makes, Smiths, does a roaring trade in London supplying electric 3.5 and 7.5 tonne commercial vehicles to people like the post office and supermarkets.
Out here in bum fuck nowhere “here be dragons” rural areas 200 miles from the crapital, not so much.
Don’t think of autonomous vehicles like the digital revolution superseding the analogue and making the old stuff literally obsolete, not saying that such is not technically feasible, but today in 2017 when people talk about autonomous vehicles they are talking about johnnycab and the autonomous rich bastard’s tesla or s-class, not the proles, not the multi drop curtainsider, not the bulk tanker or bulk tipper, not the fire engines, not the recovery vehicles, not the old shit.
Make the Londonsitan congestion zone autonomous only or chauffeur driven only, you got a commercial market right there.
Then you’ll get what you had back in the day, fish, meat, vegetables and everything else gets delivered and distributed overnight by scum manual labour workers, never to be seen past 7 am by the suited and bowler hatted.
A proper driving test and proper driver training and ongoing in cab monitoring (it’s here today with trucks and electronic tachos plus that even monitor axle weights, engine temps and fuel consumption) is the CHEAPEST solution, because that driver can get in ANY low tech vehicle.
Look at what UPS do, routes planned so you don’t turn across traffic, etc etc etc. Just a screen and a voice and a 3g connection to manage control and instruct the meat robot, minute by minute, through the day.
Go back and read the four red paras above, autonomous vehicles are no more than smartphones creating a new market for themselves.
WE should be having Nokia 33x’s being made today that blow away anything made back then, so we should be seeing 120 days standby and 5 days talk time and voice activation and yes you can text as well as do voice.
It would kill the smartphone market, same way landlords would rather have empty properties rather than mark to market meaning they have to reduce rents for the rest of the tenants.
Ain’t nothing today to do as I do, a buy a 700 quid car that you can get 100k miles out of for next to nothing and that does everything any other car does, *that* is what the autonomous car thing is all about, creating scarcity where none exists.
Like “Patriot Act” and “Homeland Security” and so on, the thing it says on the tin is the very last thing it is all about.
How the FUCK is a tesla or a s-class or a john deere “autonomous” if it’s tied by a digital umbilical cord to the fucking mothership?
An AK47, now that’s autonomous motherfucker, in itself it works just as well in the hands of a ten year old black kid as the hands on an elite marine… and ain’t no way to shut it down.
You know, I *love* the Saturn V, but you really have to hand it to the Sea Dragon, bigger, better, badder, cheaper, low tech.
No money there for the Raytheons and Boeings of this world though.