driverless technology

Forget bikes; driverless vehicles are our saviour

I’ve been saying this for years and now someone else has piped up and provided a good article on why driverless technology will save us from loopy rail projects and stupid cycleways.

Ian Apperly writes at NBR:

Debate over the past two years has argued cycleways are either a good solution to traffic woes or an over-hyped solution put forward by self-interested industry groups and a left-leaning local politics environment.

The reality is that cycleways are going to vanish as is a lot of industry, as autonomous vehicles take over.

In 2010, Uber launched. It connected drivers with riders. Over the past few years Uber has been more commonly thought of as a taxi service but it is not. It?s a lot better and a lot safer.

In 2015, nearly half of all ?taxi? rides in the US were Uber-driven. Uber is valued at about $50 billion, half the value of all the global taxi companies.

That new model is already ?disrupting? and is set to ?super-disrupt? as autonomous vehicles appear.

It?s long been known Google has a stake in Uber and that the end goal of Uber is to go driverless.

In July 2015, Uber preordered 500,000 vehicles from Tesla.

Read more »

UK set to start trials of driverless trucks


Driverless technology is likely to improve traffic and transport far faster than billions spent on modes of transport stuck on rails.

The UK is advancing plans for driverless technology.

Groups of driverless lorries could soon be seen along Britain?s motorways as the government pushes ahead with bringing about next-generation transport.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, is expected to confirm funding for the initiative this week when he unveils the Budget.

A stretch of the M6 near Carlisle has reportedly been earmarked as a potential test route for the automated lorries.

During testing the vehicles would have drivers on board as a safety precaution to ensure there is someone on hand should the technology malfunction.

He said: “Convoys of driverless lorries and motorists will certainly be very nervous about the prospect and will need considerable reassurance that it will be safe.

Read more »

London testing driverless cars while Auckland is still laying rails

The Heathrow shuttles will become the first driverless vehicles to be tested on London's roads

The Heathrow shuttles will become the first driverless vehicles to be tested on London’s roads

As all the politicians from John Key down slap themselves on the back for progressing Len Brown’s rail loop, and spending billions upon billions for an outmoded transport mode,?other?cities are getting on and experimenting with driverless technology.

London’s first driverless cars will be tested on the city’s streets this summer as part of an ?8 million project.

The vehicles will be adapted from shuttle pods already being used to ferry passengers at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, but are now being developed to work without their dedicated tracks.

It is expected that seven of the cars, which?resemble small automated train carriages, will be tested out on the streets of Greenwich, south London, this July as part of three pilot schemes. ? Read more »

The demise of Lenny’s train set is close

Driverless technology is advancing quickly…certainly far quicker than rail technology ever will.

Rail transport has an inherent flaw in it…it rides on rails and they are fixed in place. Roads provide detours and work arounds, now if we could just fix the inherent flaw in driving…the driver.

They are a familiar sight on roads across the country, but the white van man may no longer be seen carrying out deliveries in Britain after the government announced plans to try driverless vans.

As part of a multi-million pound scheme being trialled next year, driverless delivery vans will be used to move parcels between either warehouses and shops or stores and homes in south east London.

While there will be no driver in the vehicles, an operator will sit within the van ? which could be as big as a classic Mercedes Sprinter ? to ensure the operation runs smoothly and to take control in the case of an emergency.

The scheme will be rolled out across a pre-determined route in Greenwich, London, next year, with the route possibly taking in a large Sainsbury’s distribution depot, a Tesco store and the O2 arena. ?? Read more »

Ditch the trains and embrace driverless technologies


While Len Brown clutches at his city rail loop we should be ignoring him and focus instead on driverless technologies.

Most of the time, we are too ambitious in our predictions: 100 years ago, many believed that we would all be zipping around in private helicopters by now. So it is always a pleasant surprise when fictional representations of the future turn out to be too conservative. In the 1990 blockbuster Total Recall, set in 2084, Arnold Schwarzenegger?s character hops into a pretty basic driverless taxi, operated by a silly-looking robot. We won?t have to wait that long for the real revolution. ? Read more »

Driverless technology is here and being deployed

Remind me again why we are looking at rails to solve transport problems?

In Australia Rio Tinto has deployed 69 driverless trucks across several mine sites.

The first two mines in the world to start moving all of their iron ore using fully remote-controlled trucks have just gone online in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

Mining giant Rio Tinto is running pits at its Yandicoogina and Nammuldi mine sites, with workers controlling the driverless trucks largely from an operations centre in Perth, 1,200 kilometres away.

Josh Bennett manages the mining operations at Yandicoogina mine north west of Newman and is closely involved with running 22 driverless trucks on the site.

Mr Bennett said the two pits are the largest of their kind in the world.

“To the naked eye it looks like conventional mining methods. I guess the key change for us is the work that employees and our team members are doing now,” he said.

“What we have done is map out our entire mine and put that into a system and the system then works out how to manoeuvre the trucks through the mine.” ?? Read more »

Why do we need trains when driverless technology is upon us?

Trains are locked onto rails…they can’t divert around network outages and are horribly inefficient especially for passenger transit. Basically they don’t work unless massively subsidised.

If we look at the billions poured into Kiwirail since Labour bought it back at an inflated price you can see just how bad and inefficient it is.

I’ve often said rip up the rails and create heavy transport lanes on the land instead, sending buses and trucks down the nice even gradients.

I’ve also said driverless technology will solve transport issues. The video above shows how it can work for bus transport and the Daily Mail also has an article about the advent of driverless trucks for heavy transport.

Self-driving cars have long been confined to the storylines of futuristic films and the engineer’s drawing board but now they finally being tested in real traffic on a German autobahn.

German carmaker Daimler has been trialling a self-driving truck under real traffic conditions on a German motorway for the first time.

The standard Mercedes-Benz Actros truck was fitted with the ‘highway pilot’ system, allowing it to work without a human driver, and travelled from Stuttgart to the town of Denkendorf. ? Read more »

Public transport I can believe in

The other day I wrote about the ubiquitous car and how the advances in technology ?will free us from congestion rather than 19th century static technology.

When ever you ask people about public transport usualy their eyes glaze over as they dream of some expensive pipe dream for ?”other people” to take. I am yet to find an advocate for public transport that actually uses it as their primary mode of transport.

Len Brown needs to be showing the way too. He has pledged to almost $5 billion of other peoples money funding rail as the solution to all our ills. Getting ratepayers of Auckland to subsidise?international?travelers?for their trips to and from the airport and the city. If Len Brown is a serious rail advocate he should use the train to get to work in his new mayoral office. If it is good enough for “other people” it should be good enough for Len Brown.

Advancing the digital economy is a far better way of growing this city that spending nearly $5 billion on 19th century technology rail projects. Technology can deliver where socialists and green freaks have failed with the expansion of rail.

My ideal for public transport, shamelessly stolen from Peter Cresswell over a beer at Blogger’s Drinks, is for there to be a system of public transportation “pods”. You stand on the street and one arrives in front of you, you get in it and command the “pod” to travel to your destination and you get there get out. You repeat this as often as you desire to get around the city.

We have a version of this already, the “pods” are called cars, there are even ones you can command, they are called taxis. A logical extension of this though would be to remove the driver altogether and control the cars remotely using technology. Fanciful stuff you say, but wait, its already being done.

Big carmakers say they’re developing driverless cars, but only the search engine company has taken to California’s highways with one. If driverless cars can pick up people at their home or office, the need to buy one at all may soon be gone.

By Doron Levin, contributor

Google’s (GOOG) dramatic experiments on California roads with driverless-vehicle technology, publicized with mild fanfare within the past week, could legitimize a once far-fetched concept for personal transportation.

The general public hasn’t closely followed breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and digital control systems as they apply to so-called autonomous vehicles. But the military’s drone aircraft, which can take off, land and carry out military missions by remote control may provide some hints as to how far driverless cars can go. Achievements in the automotive realm have been made partly by university scientists who receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s research and development arm, DARPA, as well as by automakers.

Thanks to the the financial resources and creativity of Google, driverless technology is moving toward mass-market application sooner than anyone predicted, in the same manner that Internet technology migrated from university laboratories to personal computers once it was embraced by companies like Aol (AOL).

Well, lookee there, exactly as I (and Peter Cresswell) have wished. This is public transport I can believe in. useful, convenient and takes me where I want to go not where some green freak thinks I want to go.

The increases in safety on the roads from such a system would be enormous.

What Google brings to the table is an outsider’s perspective and an understanding of tech-savvy consumers.? Automakers have long known that cars could be built to drive themselves, but have been cautious about overselling the idea to the public or predicting their imminent arrival.? In the meantime, automakers have developed a raft of features to mitigate driver distraction, which ultimately could be used to take driving out of human hands.

“The industry knows the long road that has to be traveled to make driverless technology successful,” said Tom Kowaleski, a spokesman for BMW’s U.S. operations.

Safety and litigation worries by the industry have previously slowed the introduction of features now considered basic, such as airbags. Conventional wisdom has held that no machine could process as much information as a driver or react as well ? but the time may have finally come where perhaps the opposite is true.?”Every new piece of technology we introduce takes three to five years of gestation before it can be introduced. I have no crystal ball,” Kowaleski said.

While Google’s latest experimental vehicle uses sensors to see its surroundings and respond appropriately, BMW, Toyota and other automakers have been experimenting with a different kind of technology: Their experiments revolve around communication systems that allow cars to exchange wireless signals.? A car that encounters a slippery road, for example, could inform others approaching the area, Kowaleski said.? In an early stage of the technology, the driver could respond to a warning; eventually cars could be taught to respond on their own by slowing down or engaging all wheel drive or some other feature.

Toyota was the first automaker to offer a feature that allowed a driver to overcome the difficulty of parallel parking by letting the car do so on its own.? John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman, said in an emailed message that the automaker has been working on autonomous vehicles and related technologies and “will be a leader” when such vehicles are introduced.

Imagine if we were so bold as to remove the trains, lay asphalt instead and now create rapid transit lanes for use by autonomous vehicles. Wow that would be spectacular, and as more autonomous vehicles became available we could then start dedicating lane on the motorway to them too. The future for public transport as convenient, ubiquitous and available seems to be not far away.

Beyond the technological hurdles, which seem less difficult to surmount as companies like Google weigh in, automakers may have to consider a different model for personal transportation once a human driver is no longer essential. Here’s where the technology might both empower consumers and startle car makers.

Cars that don’t need drivers also may not need private owners ? since they could be summoned remotely and returned once their journey is complete. Why take on a lease if you can purchase a subscription to a car instead? Netflix (NFLX) has already soundly proven that consumers will change their habits if enough of an incentive is provided. Car owners who never want to spend a Saturday under the hood or in the waiting room of a mechanic’s shop again might quickly adapt to a car subscription model.

With Google’s driverless leap forward, both in terms of technology and in presentation to an increasingly tech-savvy and tech-obsessed?world, the joys of car driving and car ownership may give way to the convenience of forgoing the gasoline pump — or the charging station — for good.

I think Len Brown would be better off in talking to Google and Toyota about such a system for Auckland and investing in this rather than his dream (nightmare) of spending nearly $5 billion on outmoded, static, hopeless transport systems.

Humans are creative and adaptable creatures, we can solve our transport crisis with technology, and it isn’t by building rail networks.