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Thread: Self-Driving Vehicles

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Self-Driving Vehicles

    Last weekend, one buddy pointed out that kids getting their driver's licenses this year were born in 2000. Another buddy who works in the automotive industry said that his son (who is only a few months old) will never 'need' to learn to drive a car. I am sure the kid will, but there will not be the same 'need' as there is today because of self-driving cars. My buddy who just got back from training in Detroit learned that every major manufacturer has had self driving cars in some level of advanced testing for years, often integrated into the existing production years. You may have driven along side of one of these and never known it and some of the technology used (including the sensors in your bumpers, GPS, adaptive cruise control, brake assist, and self parking options, has been included on vehicles for years. A CNBC article notes that Audi has one already and a bunch more are coming on board in 2018.


    This concept has been something that has been in full implementation for years with the airline industry. My uncle who is a commerical pilot for a major airline told us about 10 years ago, that he can punch in a code in the dash panel of the plane, and it can fly itself, including takeoff and landing, if the conditions are good using GPS sensors and the air traffic control system. However, they still take controls when dealing with adverse weather conditions or high traffic situations.

    What are your thoughts regarding self-driving cars? Do you think you would buy one? What do you think it will do for traffic? Do you think they would work for daily driving or only for road trips?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  2. #2
    The day of individual automobile ownership is numbered. In the near future, when you need a vehicle, you'll order one on your smartphone and it will drive itself to your house, take you where you want to go, and drive itself to the nearest port to power up and await the next call. Need a truck for moving? No problem. Need a seven passenger sedan? Coming up. Want to go boating? Here comes your pick up, trailer, and 23' run-about. Et cetera.

    We need to be considering the infrastructure necessary to accommodate this because the day is coming.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    My Jeep has self-driving capabilities with a "hill descent assist" feature for use in off-road situations. At first I thought that would take away a big part of the fun of driving off-road but it is sort of interesting to feel who the computer would drive the vehicle compared to me in the same terrain/situation. I know some Chrysler engineers and it sounds like they will be releasing Jeeps with hill ascent assist very soon (or maybe they already have?). When I first used the capability (at an off-road track owned by the dealership) it was definitely a strange feeling. Even now, I've only used it maybe 3 or 4 times and it still feels strange to take my hands off the wheel and my feet off the pedals and let the vehicle have complete control.

    Elsewhere around Detroit, autonomous and self-driving vehicles are in the news everywhere and our office works a lot with local communities (and suppliers) to try to get the required infrastructure in place. It's a race between places in Michigan, Silicon Valley, and the Austin area to get our roads and infrastructure up to snuff and to attract the developers and suppliers. I know one of the big manufacturers (Nissan or Toyota I believe) just announced a huge autonomous vehicle tech development center near Ann Arbor.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I love the idea of no or at least much less individual car ownership created by on-demand autonomously driven cars.

    Personally, I like the idea of less cars overall as I parked my vehicle in my office today.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

  5. #5
    With an aging population, a sprawling built environment and an almost total dependence on cars, it's inevitable.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    I guess I have a different viewpoint. Americans love our "freedom" and nothing is more liberating than getting behind the wheel and going wherever we want. I just can't see a large segment of the population giving up that freedom and control. At least not in the short timespan some of you think it will occur in.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian The Terminator's avatar
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    IMO its kinda freaky. I like a gas, break and clutch. If I want to be driven somewhere I'll get on a bus.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    The day of individual automobile ownership is numbered. In the near future, when you need a vehicle, you'll order one on your smartphone and it will drive itself to your house, take you where you want to go, and drive itself to the nearest port to power up and await the next call. Need a truck for moving? No problem. Need a seven passenger sedan? Coming up. Want to go boating? Here comes your pick up, trailer, and 23' run-about. Et cetera.

    We need to be considering the infrastructure necessary to accommodate this because the day is coming.
    I disagree with a small part of your statement. I do still think at least half the population will buy their own vehicles. I look at where my wife and I are moving to, our commute patterns, and our need for vehicles due to inadequate public transportation options, and I don't think it would be available for us, or practical within the next 10 years.

    However, I think in densely populated urban areas where personal auto ownership is already lower than than the average, you will see this happen very soon, maybe as soon as 2020. I think it will start with Uber and Taxi Cabs and progress from there. However, it will be slower in suburban areas and rural areas that are still strongly dependant on the automobile.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I disagree with a small part of your statement. I do still think at least half the population will buy their own vehicles. I look at where my wife and I are moving to, our commute patterns, and our need for vehicles due to inadequate public transportation options, and I don't think it would be available for us, or practical within the next 10 years.

    However, I think in densely populated urban areas where personal auto ownership is already lower than than the average, you will see this happen very soon, maybe as soon as 2020. I think it will start with Uber and Taxi Cabs and progress from there. However, it will be slower in suburban areas and rural areas that are still strongly dependant on the automobile.
    As I read this, and thought about your needs, and the needs of other families with active kids, I realized that someone's going to try to send their kids off unsupervised in their own driver-less vehicle to soccer practice or something. I'm sure there will be safeguards to prevent this, but someone's bound to try.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by MD Planner View post
    I guess I have a different viewpoint. Americans love our "freedom" and nothing is more liberating than getting behind the wheel and going wherever we want. I just can't see a large segment of the population giving up that freedom and control. At least not in the short timespan some of you think it will occur in.
    That freedom comes with a huge ball and chain when you consider the cost of car ownership. I agree, however, that Americans will take longer to ween themselves than other less car-centric cultures.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I disagree with a small part of your statement. I do still think at least half the population will buy their own vehicles. I look at where my wife and I are moving to, our commute patterns, and our need for vehicles due to inadequate public transportation options, and I don't think it would be available for us, or practical within the next 10 years.

    However, I think in densely populated urban areas where personal auto ownership is already lower than than the average, you will see this happen very soon, maybe as soon as 2020. I think it will start with Uber and Taxi Cabs and progress from there. However, it will be slower in suburban areas and rural areas that are still strongly dependant on the automobile.
    I think it's another nail in the coffin of suburbia, frankly. Again, it's about the cost of owning a vehicle, which is just a really bad investment when you look hard at it.(Purchase, insurance, registration, fuel, taxes, maintenance, depreciation, depreciation, depreciation...) I also think the leaders of the self-driving vehicle future will be Google and tech companies rather than traditional auto makers.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Perhaps the next big urban development challenge is going to be figuring out what to do with all the excessive and expensive parking garages we've built?

    I personally think we're still a long way off from total removal of individual car ownership, and frankly I don't know exactly how I feel about a select number of private companies (e.g. Uber, Google) totally dominating the supply side of suburban transportation. My guess is, complications in insurance and liability aside, people are still going to have the desire to own and use their own vehicles, but will likely be more open to participate in ride-sharing options to reduce the financial impact of ownership. There's a lot to like about self-driving cars (e.g. no need to worry about finding parking anymore), but as has been pointed out in many other cases, we shouldn't assume that the technology in and of itself is a good thing. We still haven't figured out exactly how the U.S. is going to "fix" the highway trust fund, and one could easily see how the added personal comfort of a self-driving car (as well as the technical capacity to put more cars on the highway spaced closer together) could encourage even longer, and more sprawling commute patterns.

    I will say though, it's pretty amazing to see how quickly this is all developing. I was riding my bike around in Austin less than a year ago and frequently had Google's driver-less cars safely passing me (with a Google employee in the driver seat glued to their clipboard!).
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    That freedom comes with a huge ball and chain when you consider the cost of car ownership. I agree, however, that Americans will take longer to ween themselves than other less car-centric cultures.



    I think it's another nail in the coffin of suburbia, frankly. Again, it's about the cost of owning a vehicle, which is just a really bad investment when you look hard at it.(Purchase, insurance, registration, fuel, taxes, maintenance, depreciation, depreciation, depreciation...) I also think the leaders of the self-driving vehicle future will be Google and tech companies rather than traditional auto makers.
    I think in the long range future, this might be true, but I think it will take decades to get there. The cost of living in the safer areas of downtown has become cost prohibitive in many areas for a typical family with kids. I personally would love to not need a vehicle, but the reality of the situation is that it is a necessity because of a total lack of public transportation right now.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Terminator View post
    IMO its kinda freaky. I like a gas, break and clutch. If I want to be driven somewhere I'll get on a bus.
    I'm with you. I like being a pilot. I like the interface between man and machine, and being pressed back hard in the seat, and rowing my own gears. That said, car culture is a victim of its own success. Cars don't scale geometrically - they are just too bulky for dense urban environments. The roads are full at peak hour in many major metro areas across the country. Something has to give.

    What will be interesting is the interregnum between manual driving and total self-driving car adoption. i.e., will there be a renaissance of motorcycling as riding one suddenly becomes vastly safer? How will manual and autonomous cars interface with each other on the road? Will autonomous cars be fitted with sensor hardware that allows them to tattle, so to speak, on manually-driven cars breaking the speed limit or driving aggressively? There's a whole new regime of motoring coming and no one knows how it will play out.

    There is a cynical part of me that does think that this is a way for the masses to get public transportation without having to be around the poor, mentally ill, "undesirables", etc, as they are safely ensconced in their own little Wall-E pod.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    You know I like driving my own vehicle. Heck, I'm annoyed with the idea of an automatic transmission that doesn't give me the power to make the decision to shift on my own.*

    I also am annoyed with the idea that kids today don't need to learn to parallel park because they can push a button for that. No one knows how to drive a stick shift anymore because there just aren't that many out there... and that makes me sad.

    That being said, I also think I like the idea of self-driving vehicles. IF they can successfully avoid accidents and I can sit in the back reading a book or taking a nap on my commute, I'm all for it. And thinking about NY winters, I'd take one of those European BMWs that will start itself, exit the garage, and pull up for you in front of your door. That does sound nice... (if only I put my car in a garage and said garage was farther away than the driveway section closest to the front door).

    *yes, mine is a standard transmission
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Did anyone else catch the Webinar on the impacts of Autonomous Vehicles on Planning last Friday. It was super interesting and the scary part was the time frame on when these will be the norm is within our long range planning distances. One reference said that by 2030, 95% of the population will have access to an autonomous vehicle and the majority of those will use a shared program like Lyft, Uber, or some other community vehicle service. They mentioned that urban areas will be the fast adopters and it will work its way out.

    I talked to a friend who works at the GM tech center and he said that it will be sooner than that. He pointed out how much technology is already in our vehicles today, and that many of the newer electric vehicles already have autonomous driving capabilities, but it is turned off to the consumers right now.



    What are your thoughts? Do you think that this is the future? Do you think that in 10 years you will be transported by a computer operated pod instead of having to actually drive yourself?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  16. #16
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    So everyone will soon be hooked up to one big network and computers will do all our driving for us? No thanks.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  17. #17
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    What are your thoughts? Do you think that this is the future? Do you think that in 10 years you will be transported by a computer operated pod instead of having to actually drive yourself?
    I think that those capabilities will be opened up to consumers faster than we may have imagined a few years ago but it will be spotty - there will be large swaths of the country that will not have the infrastructure in place to accommodate "connected mobility" because of the cost of installation and materials for some time. Talking to people in the automotive and tech industries, I would imagine that it will be the logistics sector that really pushes the technology forward. The trucking folks can really save a ton of money by automating much of the driving especially in the middle of the country.

    Every few weeks it seems like there's some announcement in the news here in Metro Detroit about something one of the automakers, suppliers, or some tech company is doing on the connected mobility or autonomous driving fronts. There are now a few big campuses and tech centers in the area working on this stuff.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  18. #18
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    At APA they had a session about how AV's would fix so many of our problems. Congestion? AVs. Pedestrian issues crossing streets? We will just make all lanes 8 feet because AVs don't need the space. We can speed up transit by using AVs.

    My thought....Hummers. There will always be that guy who likes spending tons of money on his huge truck. He will take up both 8' lanes and make AVs useless.

    My thought is that we will see an AV lane on the highway. There will be dedicated on and off locations and once you are in the lane you are automated, taking people out of the equation. We will still have our standard lanes with dumb huge vehicles, but they will be separated and going much slower than our automated lanes.

    We will not see the removal of independent lanes or automobiles though for a very long time. People like control. We should focus on freight, longer trips, and other efficiencies in our system, not in a one size fits all solution.

    Love the concept though.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  19. #19
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    Who got their free AICP CM credits for listening/watching the Ohio Chapter Webcast last friday (May 12) ?

    The Next Disruptive Technology: Autonomous Vehicles

  20. #20
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Who got their free AICP CM credits for listening/watching the Ohio Chapter Webcast last friday (May 12) ?

    The Next Disruptive Technology: Autonomous Vehicles
    That is what sparked the bump. (pun intended)



    Personally, I would love to see this tech be successful. But yes, there will always be people who will want a vehicle that they can drive. Personally, I would love to build an early 50's Chevy 2 door, chopped and dropped lead slead.

    One of the things the guys mentioned in the webcast was the rollout of smart phone technology and market adoption. I think that while it is a comparable trend, the time frames are different. Many people will replace their phones every 2 or 3 years to get an upgraded model. However, in 2015 a study said that people now hold on to their cars for 11 1/2 years. Moreso if there is new technology coming out for self driving cars, I think people (like me) will hold out until that comes on line before switching to a new car.


    Overall, I think this will go one of two ways. Either the tech will be used the exact same way as we currently use cars (everyone has their own car, commuting patterns go unchanged, and people are willing to move further away from their work because commuting gets simpler), or a good portion of the US will go with the sharing model, which will reduce the number of parking spaces needed, reduce the amount of signage needed, and increase profitability for companies like Lyft and Uber. It might also improve pedestrian development because we like the convenience of hopping in our car to drive a block or so. If we had to summon a car and pay per trip, I wonder if we would be more likely to walk? Will this improve the urban form?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  21. #21
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    Saw the webinar, but actually rode in a "driverless" Uber in Pittsburgh. Amazing. There were two people in the front. One to catch the wheel and another to qa/QC the code the car was going through. After I buckled up and confirmed the destination the driver pulled his arms and feet back and the car took off. Only scary part was the car losing GPS connection a few times. It was really smooth and pretty comfortable.

    The big investment is going to be in trucking. Look up platooning. Ten connected semis with one driver synchronized steering, acceleration, and braking all driving 1 foot apart to reduce drag. Trucks can run almost 24 hrs a day without having to worry about pesky humans and their need for sleep and breaks. Plus it's easier to invest big money on a truck that already costs 150k.

  22. #22
    The other aspect of this is the remotely-operated vehicle. Sometime soon your local snow plow could be driven by Rajiv in Mumbai, or your local street sweeper being driven by Olga in Talinn. In fact, this might be the closer horizon than fully-automated vehicles.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Who got their free AICP CM credits for listening/watching the Ohio Chapter Webcast last friday (May 12) ?

    The Next Disruptive Technology: Autonomous Vehicles
    I was there for the webinar, too, and was the one who posed a question on the future of manual driving and enjoyment of driving that was apparently forwarded to the presenters. Those guys totally did not get it - the response was "why would anyone want to drive when you can just be entertained in your pod the entire way there?" Shades of Wall-E.

    One thing I'm certain of is that there will be a Motorcycle Renaissance if manually-driven cars are phased out. People like "good" driving, like a winding road on a nice day. They just hate "bad" driving, i.e. the bumper to bumper reality that makes up most metro-area driving. Motorcycles offer a lot more of the former.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kms View post
    As I read this, and thought about your needs, and the needs of other families with active kids, I realized that someone's going to try to send their kids off unsupervised in their own driver-less vehicle to soccer practice or something. I'm sure there will be safeguards to prevent this, but someone's bound to try.
    This isn't using autonomous vehicles, but there is an "Uber for Children": https://www.hopskipdrive.com/faqs/#about1 for when your child needs to get to soccer or karate or wherever but you can't do it.

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