Future Cars: Electric and Autonomous Vehicles

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seanrichardryan
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Re: Future cars

Postby seanrichardryan » November 23rd, 2013, 6:51 pm

If I remember correctly from the movie iRobot with Will Smith, they will all be Audis and be stored underground on the robotic equivalent of a dry cleaners rack.
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ECtransplant
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Re: Future cars

Postby ECtransplant » November 23rd, 2013, 10:19 pm

People keep assuming that there will still be individual ownership of cars. Eventually the technology could easily lead to large fleets of automated taxis type vehicles.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2 ... instead/2/

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Re: Future cars

Postby Mdcastle » November 23rd, 2013, 11:23 pm

Some people might use shared taxis, but then again conventional taxis have been available forever, and not everyone uses them, and not just because of cost. Maybe the take pride of owing a car? What about the ick factor of shared transport- maybe the previous occupants left lice or bedbugs, or the kid was carsick on the seat. What if you want to take a trip to visit aunt Martha in the suburbs, but want to stop at IKEA since it's in the area? Are you going to unload all your particleboard furniture so the car can go to someone else while your visiting. And if we're talking about multiple, unrelated people in the car, what about the safety issue, or if you want a private car because of the privacy compared to mass transit. Private self-driving taxis might be a new option but are not be the best option for everyone.

I do dream of self-driving cars. I took a trip that was about 10 hours of driving time from Eureka to Grants Pass down to the Bay Area. Would have been nice to be able to relax and enjoy the scenery.

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Re: Future cars

Postby RailBaronYarr » November 24th, 2013, 9:36 am

Can I just put it out there that self-proclaimed car enthusiasts don't really exist like they used to? People love/drive cars now because it gets them where they need to go (because we built infrastructure almost solely around them, making other modes impossible or not feasible). I don't think people take pride in owning a car anymore, at least not more than they take pride in owning a TV or a phone. People buy ones that conform to their personal taste (style, color, brand), and that's about it. Very few people maintain their cars; it's why we have all these automated car washing & waxing facilities around, along with full-service centers to take away even the most remedial mechanical tasks such as changing oil, wiper blades, brakes, air filters, etc. Even fewer people do true repair (shocks, timing belts, etc). Other than a status symbol through ownership (ie this is the car I can afford), I don't see any real pride around cars anymore beyond the real car cult. Also, what happened to the idea that driving in and of itself is fun?

But I agree with you, Mdcastle. I think the idea of car as taxi/revenue generator for many people simply won't happen (likewise, how many unused bedrooms to people have that they choose not to monetize). People will want to leave their child seats, toys, DVDs, dog hair, etc in their vehicle and in the garage. They won't want to wait 10 minutes for the car to show up because it was in a convenient location to pick up would-be passengers (or worse, not have it accessible because it's out driving someone). Perhaps autonomous vehicles will make freedom/flexibility for travel more a reality for lower income people (a combo of car-sharing), but as stated earlier, this technology could cut ~60% of the operating budget for bus lines, which could make system expansion/frequency/amenities that much better at potentially no subsidy increase (maybe even reduction!).

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Re: Future cars

Postby mattaudio » November 24th, 2013, 9:51 am

Just like the car sharing of 2013, driverless of the future will just be a part of the overall mix. Car sharing allows for couples and families to have one car instead of two. Or, for some, it allows individuals to go without cars (if you live in an area with a high enough walk score and your commute obviously doesn't require it).

People often fail to truly account for how expensive their car habit is. Usually the only thing people can account for is fuel and car storage. Having the car in the first place is an expensive sunk cost at the point of trip planning, which is why people often drive. If people weren't paying hundreds a month for a car payment, it suddenly looks much more reasonable to walk over to the neighborhood car rental shop and pay $20 a day for a day or two of ikea shopping, up north vacationing, etc.

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Mdcastle
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Re: Future cars

Postby Mdcastle » November 24th, 2013, 10:01 am

So can we agree that the model of individual ownership might be less common, but it's not going to completely disappear. Besides better driving habits in the freeways, car storage downtown could be more efficient. You'd not need space for people to get out in the parking ramp, if you had regular customers you could park the cars bumper to bumper based on who usually leaves first, you could even have a centralized car park 10 minutes away from the downtown area. I actually think driving is fun, but granted my commute it 25 feet from my bedroom to my home office, so I don't have to deal with rush hour traffic on a daily business, I only drive when I need to go shopping or for fun, and I have a nice vehicle with all the toys and whistles. My days of driving a manual Dodge Colt from Chaska in the morning rush hour before the new US 212 was built are done.

Right now the car rental model is inconvenient so it's not really an option. Like find a ride to the rental place, spend a half hour filling out forms and saying you don't want the extra insurance, being paranoid about not getting a scratch on it that will cost you $500.00, make sure it's back no more than 24 hours later with a full gas tank, find a ride back home. The new hour car models don't have larger vehicles (if you need to haul wood chips, what good does a choice of a smart car or a smart car do?) and don't allow for road trips. I drive a large vehicle alone, but part of that is I don't want the hassle of renting something anytime I need something bigger than a Smart Car, which would be several times a week when I take my bicycle into the city- I can just throw it in the back of my Jeep rather than putz around with those bike racks that never seem to be secure. I also like the comfort and foul weather capability, but a lot of people would choose smaller vehicles if they could get a larger one for the wood chip run or take the soccer team to Chicago with just a press of a smarthpone app.

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Re: Future cars

Postby FISHMANPET » November 24th, 2013, 10:39 am

Either hourcar or zip car has pickup trucks for rent, but not nearly as many as they do cares.

But I think easy truck rental would get a lot of people out of trucks, because if they only actually need the hauling capacity of a truck every few weeks, why drag a truck around with you the rest of the time.

When fuel prices got higher a few years ago my dad bought himself a small car for the 200 mile drive between his place and my mom's place, and kept his truck at his place (which is 80 acres of woods in the country where a truck is actually useful).

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Re: Future cars

Postby mulad » December 13th, 2013, 2:37 pm

Looks like the first Tesla Supercharger has opened in Minnesota, way in the southwest corner of the state along I-90 in Worthington. In theory, you can reach it from the Twin Cities. We're also covered by a station in Mauston, Wisconsin.

Map of live stations as of today:
Image
tesla-supercharger-2013-12-13-today by Mulad, on Flickr

"Coming Soon" stations:
Image
tesla-supercharger-2013-12-13-coming-soon by Mulad, on Flickr

End of 2014 (odd that they have so many planned in the empty West)
Image
tesla-supercharger-2013-12-13-coming-2014 by Mulad, on Flickr

End of 2015:
Image
tesla-supercharger-2013-12-13-coming-2015 by Mulad, on Flickr

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Re: Future cars

Postby RailBaronYarr » December 13th, 2013, 4:03 pm

mulad wrote:odd that they have so many planned in the empty West
Of course, you lack vision.

http://youtu.be/XOXDrAk4tpc?t=1m14s

;)

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Re: Future cars

Postby Mdcastle » December 13th, 2013, 4:44 pm

Doesn't surprise me that there's a lot out in the west, it looks like the goal is to cover the interstates. I think the idea is you don't need a gasoline car to take road trips if you have a Tesla- whereas a Leaf would be pretty useless on even a short trip to Chicago.

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Re: Future cars

Postby mulad » January 8th, 2014, 9:50 am

This New Yorker article on driverless cars from around Thanksgiving was very enlightening. It confirms some of my suspicions about the actual state of Google's vehicles. They're pretty good, and have greatly advanced the state of the art, but still need significant improvement. Choice quote:
The Google car has now driven more than half a million miles without causing an accident—about twice as far as the average American driver goes before crashing. Of course, the computer has always had a human driver to take over in tight spots. Left to its own devices, Thrun says, it could go only about fifty thousand miles on freeways without a major mistake. Google calls this the dog-food stage: not quite fit for human consumption. “The risk is too high,” Thrun says. “You would never accept it.” The car has trouble in the rain, for instance, when its lasers bounce off shiny surfaces. (The first drops call forth a small icon of a cloud onscreen and a voice warning that auto-drive will soon disengage.) It can’t tell wet concrete from dry or fresh asphalt from firm. It can’t hear a traffic cop’s whistle or follow hand signals.

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Mdcastle
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Re: Future cars

Postby Mdcastle » January 8th, 2014, 8:30 pm

Even if it can't handle San Francisco in the rain it would be nice to kick back and let it drive me to Chicago- there's enough traffic, especially beyond Wisconsin Dells, to be irritating but not enough to probably pose any challenge to a driverless car.

I saw the article on Street today, and although it's interesting the potential effect on road capacity, I still don't see individual ownership going away. For people that don't want to own cars it's not like there aren't alternatives- taxis or hourcar now, driverless cars that you don't own wouldn't take away any of the drawbacks of those models except probably being cheaper than a taxi ride.

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Re: Future cars

Postby mulad » January 22nd, 2014, 7:17 pm

The weather was finally good enough last weekend for me to drive down to Albert Lea and Worthington to check out the Tesla Supercharger stations there.

[Edit: Here's a nice interactive map that's zoomable and has a customizable driving radius feature: http://www.teslawiki.net/supercharger/ ]

Here's the one in Albert Lea, four stalls in the parking lot of an AmericInn hotel just off I-90 (the first exit west of I-35):
Image
img_7909 by Mulad, on Flickr

Here's the one in Worthington, six stalls in the parking lot of a Ground Round restaurant. There was one couple there sitting in their car waiting for it to charge.
Image
img_7914 by Mulad, on Flickr

Both are in pretty crappy suburban-style areas. Technically there are a number of places to eat or shop within a fairly short distance, but there aren't any sidewalks. I saw one pedestrian in this part of Worthington, cutting across parking lots to try to find the shortest path.

I should have worked up the guts to ask the couple what they thought of the whole experience of charging up their car. I assume they just sat there for however long it took to gain the miles they needed. It may not have taken them very long, but with the prospect of it likely taking 20 to 30 minutes, I'd think many owners would prefer to charge up in more walkable areas.

For Albert Lea, where the town center is about 3 miles off the highway, maybe it's still most appropriate to have them in one of the more suburban strips. But Worthington's town center is less than 1.5 miles off the highway. I went down there and walked around for a bit before getting supper and getting back in my car to head home. The town has a fairly nice "main" street (10th Street), though it is screwed up by the bunker-like Nobles County Government Center...

Image
img_7916 by Mulad, on Flickr

Image
img_7920 by Mulad, on Flickr

Image
img_7925 by Mulad, on Flickr

Image
img_7922 by Mulad, on Flickr

Image
img_7924 by Mulad, on Flickr

...and they still have a nice train station building, now used for offices by Union Pacific.

Image
img_7927 by Mulad, on Flickr

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Re: Future cars

Postby LRV Op Dude » March 18th, 2014, 5:05 pm

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Re: Future cars

Postby Mdcastle » March 19th, 2014, 9:52 am

Although I won't be buying an electric car until they match the utility of a gasoline one, if I had one I'd prefer to charge up by the interstate, although preferably by a McDonalds or something. To me the point of interstate travel is to bypass towns like Worthington or Albert Lea, not drive through them. I'd think even Worthington would add an extra 5-10 minutes to the trip.

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Nick
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Re: Future cars

Postby Nick » May 22nd, 2014, 6:21 am


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Re: Future cars

Postby mulad » May 22nd, 2014, 6:57 am

While that's an interesting and important question, human drivers have to contend with the same problems. In theory, autonomous cars will be able to more fully think out the possibilities and may have a better ability to choose an action to take. But too many of these articles imply that human drivers are just victims of accidents in these types of situations.

Of course, I think we're seeing that autonomous cars are being designed to be more cautious than typical human drivers, so the possibilities of these already rare events coming up probably becomes even more rare.

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Re: Future cars

Postby holmstar » May 22nd, 2014, 7:43 am

We're nowhere near having having computers that can evaluate a situation and make a moral judgement of the type that the article discusses. About the best we can do right now is "avoid crashing into things", and if that appears impossible "avoid crashing into things that look human".

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Re: Future cars / Driverless cars

Postby Anondson » August 31st, 2014, 8:31 am

Despite the demonstrated progress, the obstacles to self driving cars are immense.

"Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn’t drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn’t be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole?"

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/53 ... ving-cars/

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Re: Future cars / Driverless cars

Postby Mdcastle » September 2nd, 2014, 6:48 am

The way I figure it I have a good 30 years of driving left. By then driverless cars will have been perfected so I won't have to worry about getting around after that.


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