open topic, for anything cycling related.
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interesting to see what's happened to our closest Frienemy.
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013 ... ntPage=all
Query why Google is developing this? I guess they want to save lives by taking away human error, and then serve ads to all those people who formerly drove by now left with nothing to do.
Its because Google wants the database of everything every sensor on every car can see. The benefit for individual cars is that they have access to a total database of recent knowledge of road conditions and hazards ahead.
Given googles propensity to make fast database searching work, its possible that individual cars could be asking for road conditions around the next corner on approach, and google could well eventually be quick enough to identify that the last car saw a cyclist 1km ago, traveling at 30km/hr, and that the circle of possible locations for that last cyclist includes just around the next corner for this car.
Choice quote from Sergey Brin
“As you look outside, and walk through parking lots and past multilane roads, the transportation infrastructure dominates,” Brin said. “It’s a huge tax on the land.” Most cars are used only for an hour or two a day, he said. The rest of the time, they’re parked on the street or in driveways and garages. But if cars could drive themselves, there would be no need for most people to own them. A fleet of vehicles could operate as a personalized public-transportation system, picking people up and dropping them off independently, waiting at parking lots between calls. They’d be cheaper and more efficient than taxis—by some calculations, they’d use half the fuel and a fifth the road space of ordinary cars—and far more flexible than buses or subways. Streets would clear, highways shrink, parking lots turn to parkland. “We’re not trying to fit into an existing business model,” Brin said. “We are just on such a different planet.”
pretty much this. google's overarching strategy is to make people do more things on the internet so that they will, in turn, see more of google's content and advertising. all of the "alternative revenue streams" that they've developed all channel back to serving their core business which is showing you ads. bought a google "smart-car" so you're not driving? you're probably on the interwebs on your smart phone consuming google services. used 23andme to find out a way to live longer? you're probably using some of that extra time to surf the internet...
Okay, probably a better quote that runs to the key issue of the article
"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.
And yet, for each of its failings, the car has a corresponding strength. It never gets drowsy or distracted, never wonders who has the right-of-way. It knows every turn, tree, and streetlight ahead in precise, three-dimensional detail. Dolgov was riding through a wooded area one night when the car suddenly slowed to a crawl. “I was thinking, What the hell? It must be a bug,” he told me. “Then we noticed the deer walking along the shoulder.” The car, unlike its riders, could see in the dark. Within a year, Thrun added, it should be safe for a hundred thousand miles."
I think also Google make so much money they currently have the luxury of indulging in exploratory projects that don't have an end objective.
Not sure if I agree with this.
No one except google really has the experience/expertise and infrastructure to deal with the large amount of data and analysis of said data that an experiential system like a self driving car would need, and that's before you get the communications infrastructure together to get them talking to each other so they know where delays, hazards etc are.
So it is essentially a big gamble. If self driving cars are the future (FWIW, which is not much as I'm just a random person posting to the internet, I think they are), then google is very well placed to be the market if not just for the cars and/or AI/whatever, but for the communication infrastructure too. I doubt any ad revenue would be required to make incredible profit if every car has a google-intelligence-flux-capacitor-thingy in it which gives it the intelligence and/or communications necessary to be driver-less. Google have the cash reserves to do this. Nobody else really does, except apple.
Governments hate providing any service that requires staff but are happy to spend big on infrastructure.
It occurred to me a while back that, in a short time, I could see, in place of buses taking passengers to the high speed hubs that are train lines, these cars doing it instead.
The self driving car would be aware of real time traffic data. Also tied in would be on-line booking systems (no staff involved) including the start and end points of customers. And awareness from the booking system of other competing demands. Vehicles being moved from passenger to passenger according to needs and locations of passengers and the vehicles. Depending on service level (fee customer is willing to pay) the network could even do a more effective job of sharing trips than car-pooling ever did with intelligent minor re-routing to collect an additional passenger or two. All do-able with a comprehensive and intelligent network of roads, vehicles, bookings, geospatial data and so forth.
One vehicle would service a lot of passengers during peak hour while reducing greatly the congestion of today, reduction of uneccesary distance and time and parking at places whre it is ahrd to find space for it. When peak demand drops they simply self-park somewhere on a street in dispersed locations that will best serve the later demand. Occasionally they would, instead, head to a depot for maintenance, refuelling/recharging, etc.
With a high level of conveninece, on-call service would wipe out so much of the need/cost of privately owned cars.
I haven't seen any blog or discussion so far on integration of self driving cars into a public transport network but I feel the possibilities are compelling. Indeed I will be surprised if something like I am describing does not eventuate within the next decade of so.
Unchain yourself - Ride a unicycle .
If nothing else, autonomous taxis will have an enormous positive effect on road safety.
Unless they are programmed to u-turn across 6lanes without signalling, double park wherever they damn well like and turn right from the left lane and vice versa.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "Governments would RATHER spend capital than on recurrent expenses, regardless of whether the net effect is less cost". But then I'd be speaking in the language of an economist.
Unchain yourself - Ride a unicycle .
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