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Old 22nd April 2018, 01:45 AM   #601
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
As has been mentioned, one problem is for vehicles trying to join the motorway. If the convoy is long and a number of cars want to merge then the convoy not only has to split, but it has to split in a number of places. To do this by slowing, the rearmost vehicles creating a gap for merging have to slow more than those creating gaps further forward. It's a cumulative thing. To create (say) 3 gaps in a convoy doing 60mph by slowing by (say) 10mph for x seconds then the rearmost chunk of convoy will be down to 30mph by the time all the merging is done, as will the traffic behind them in that lane.

Convoys are a pain in the arse. Better to spread out, allowing some flexibility in spacing and speed to accommodate general maneouvering.
This contains an error in logic. The lead vehicle would not change speed at all. If three vehicles joined the convoy by the convoy creating three gaps to allow the vehicles to join the convoy and then reform the single convoy then the end of the process the trailing vehicle would be three vehicles further away from the lead vehicle, which has not changed speed at all. One complication in this is that the trailing vehicles would need to go faster than the leading vehicles for a short time to catch up to the rest of the convoy.




Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
The argument from fuel economy is no longer as strong as it once was: energy, especially electric, is no limiting factor anymore: off-peak energy production is plenty-full.
Even if energy was free you conveys would be a good idea as a energy saving measure. They would extend the range of a vehicle. Or make it faster to recharge as less electricity would be needed.
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Old 22nd April 2018, 03:24 AM   #602
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
This contains an error in logic. The lead vehicle would not change speed at all. If three vehicles joined the convoy by the convoy creating three gaps to allow the vehicles to join the convoy and then reform the single convoy then the end of the process the trailing vehicle would be three vehicles further away from the lead vehicle, which has not changed speed at all. One complication in this is that the trailing vehicles would need to go faster than the leading vehicles for a short time to catch up to the rest of the convoy.
I didn't suggest the lead vehicle needs to slow down. It doesn't - in fact it would scupper the whole manoeuvre if it did.
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Old 22nd April 2018, 03:01 PM   #603
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
As has been mentioned, one problem is for vehicles trying to join the motorway. If the convoy is long and a number of cars want to merge then the convoy not only has to split, but it has to split in a number of places. To do this by slowing, the rearmost vehicles creating a gap for merging have to slow more than those creating gaps further forward. It's a cumulative thing. To create (say) 3 gaps in a convoy doing 60mph by slowing by (say) 10mph for x seconds then the rearmost chunk of convoy will be down to 30mph by the time all the merging is done, as will the traffic behind them in that lane.
And why would this not be taken into account in the programming? If you've thought of it, surely others have as well. A convoy would intentionally be prepared to divide as needed, whenever needed. An autonomous vehicle, in this admittedly idealised vision of the future, is aware of all the other autonomous vehicles on the road through direct communication, and all non-linked vehicles through 360 degree awareness, and not just those vehicles that are already part of the convoy.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Convoys are a pain in the arse. Better to spread out, allowing some flexibility in spacing and speed to accommodate general maneouvering.
And again, what's to stop the vehicles to be programmed to move in convoy when it is appropriate to do so, and not when it is not?

This isn't a problem. At the very least it is a programming issue. Ideally, the software would deep-learn the most efficient and effective safe ways of managing traffic by itself. If a computer can deep-learn how to beat the best human Go players in a week, it can deep-learn traffic management in years.
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Old 22nd April 2018, 09:20 PM   #604
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I think you are minimizing the difficulty and unevenness of a convoy opening up "as needed." If a convoy of vehicles is close together, and must separate to allow others to enter, every single member of that convoy behind the opening must immediately slow down to avoid colliding with the one that opens the gap. Unless on-ramp is very very long, this all must either be done well in advance of the event, or the ramp must be very long. And this expansion must be done for every vehicle that enters the line.

This would be true no matter how automated the entering vehicles are.

By comparison, if the vehicles already on the highway were evenly spaced with a distance between them enough for safe entry at speed, cars could merge into the line easily, the job of anticipation would be much less, and the re-establishment of safe distances could be done with less urgency. A large number of vehicles could alternately merge at a high density intersection and readjustment could be done gradually before the next intersection. If the next intersection is some miles down the road, the adjustment would be barely noticeable, involving slight throttle modulation rather than the fairly drastic moves required of a close convoy in which even the slightest malfunction or mis-coordination could cause a massive pileup.

After all, remember that this entire thread begins with the discussion of an automated car that did not stop for a pedestrian. What if it had, and it had been at the head of a long, bumper to bumper convoy?
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Old 23rd April 2018, 12:04 AM   #605
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
And why would this not be taken into account in the programming? If you've thought of it, surely others have as well. A convoy would intentionally be prepared to divide as needed, whenever needed. An autonomous vehicle, in this admittedly idealised vision of the future, is aware of all the other autonomous vehicles on the road through direct communication, and all non-linked vehicles through 360 degree awareness, and not just those vehicles that are already part of the convoy.
The problem isn't one of programming difficulty or awareness, it's the degree of slowing required. In this (purely theoretical) case the rearmost lorry slows from 60 to 30 in a relatively short time, which can be a problem in heavy traffic.

Shockwave traffic jam.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 05:05 AM   #606
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
I think you are minimizing the difficulty and unevenness of a convoy opening up "as needed." If a convoy of vehicles is close together, and must separate to allow others to enter, every single member of that convoy behind the opening must immediately slow down to avoid colliding with the one that opens the gap. Unless on-ramp is very very long, this all must either be done well in advance of the event, or the ramp must be very long. And this expansion must be done for every vehicle that enters the line.

This would be true no matter how automated the entering vehicles are.

By comparison, if the vehicles already on the highway were evenly spaced with a distance between them enough for safe entry at speed, cars could merge into the line easily, the job of anticipation would be much less, and the re-establishment of safe distances could be done with less urgency. A large number of vehicles could alternately merge at a high density intersection and readjustment could be done gradually before the next intersection. If the next intersection is some miles down the road, the adjustment would be barely noticeable, involving slight throttle modulation rather than the fairly drastic moves required of a close convoy in which even the slightest malfunction or mis-coordination could cause a massive pileup.

After all, remember that this entire thread begins with the discussion of an automated car that did not stop for a pedestrian. What if it had, and it had been at the head of a long, bumper to bumper convoy?
I think this issue of breaking a convoy multiple times to allow other vehicles in is a bit of a waste. If several vehicles are waiting they can join together and act as one. Maybe join at the start or rear of the convoy where it would be lot simpler to do.

What would be complex would be when one vehicle wants to leave the convoy. Then there needs to be a split, the vehicle can leave and then the convoy can rejoin.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 06:00 AM   #607
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I think this issue of breaking a convoy multiple times to allow other vehicles in is a bit of a waste. If several vehicles are waiting they can join together and act as one. Maybe join at the start or rear of the convoy where it would be lot simpler to do.

What would be complex would be when one vehicle wants to leave the convoy. Then there needs to be a split, the vehicle can leave and then the convoy can rejoin.
Indeed, breaking a convoy mulitiple times is a waste, which is why I suggest it makes the idea a poor one. But now if you presume that a new convoy will join only at the end of the existing one, you have re-invented the rail crossing. A large number of vehicles must, in this scenario, wait for a time until the entire train has crossed, and then join the end. At the next entrance, the wait will be that much longer, since the convoy is now longer.

They can't join at the start unless there is either a very long anticipation period programmed in, and only if, at the entrance, a long wait is automatically programmed in so as to make sure that the entering group is large enough to be granted entrance.

Leaving such a convoy should, by contrast, be trivially easy, assuming that there is no rule that space be made up instantly. A vehicle exits the group, and vehicles behind briefly add a little bit of speed to close the gap. The gap will, just as in a coupled train, close progressively, and it will take a little time, but it will require very little adjustment - a little stab of the accelerator passed on down the line, with no horrific consequence for a little loss of coordination.

Of course it would not actually be so easy in a congested environment, because nearly every place an exiting vehicle will want to go, it will be faced with a traffic jam, as other queues of vehicles wait their turns to join other convoys. If traffic with no spaces between vehicles becomes backed up, exit into a new lane will be impossible.

I sincerely urge you, if you are going to advocate this kind of thing, to take a drive on the interstate system, and to do it through a big urban interchange - say on one of the main arterial routes through the American South, where during a busy time the highway is dense with vehicles, and exits occur within a mile or two of each other- and where many of those exits are on to the entrances of other superhighways. Imagine traffic here being arranged into a number of unspaced multi-vehicle trains operating as units. I think the result would be nearly instant gridlock.

By contrast, I think a completely automated system might actually work in such an environment if a part of the system is engineered specifically to avoid that very thing and to maintain safe, even spacing between vehicles so as to allow them to act with initial autonomy and subsequent coordination.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 02:52 PM   #608
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The problem isn't one of programming difficulty or awareness, it's the degree of slowing required. In this (purely theoretical) case the rearmost lorry slows from 60 to 30 in a relatively short time, which can be a problem in heavy traffic.

Shockwave traffic jam.
It's much more of a problem for a human driver than it is for a robot, which after all can draw almost instantly upon a potentially vast database of statistics and models that predict the behaviour of traffic in this and other situations.

In short, an autonomous truck will know about the situation and will take steps to anticipate it - either by slowing earlier and more gradually, or more likely by manoeuvring to avoid it entirely well before it occurs.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 02:54 PM   #609
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I want to point out again that I am speaking of a hypothetical idealistic future. I am not intending to suggest that what I am describing is possible now. I just want to make that very clear.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 03:20 PM   #610
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I want to point out again that I am speaking of a hypothetical idealistic future. I am not intending to suggest that what I am describing is possible now. I just want to make that very clear.
I realize that this is all theoretical and not descriptive of current possibilities. What I believe, though, is that within any reasonable set of conditions your idea of convoys and their operation is actually theoretically impracticable, and that within a somewhat nearer future less hypothetical other arrangements would be more practicable and less likely to result in occasional catastrophic accidents.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 03:33 PM   #611
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
<snip>

By contrast, I think a completely automated system might actually work in such an environment if a part of the system is engineered specifically to avoid that very thing and to maintain safe, even spacing between vehicles so as to allow them to act with initial autonomy and subsequent coordination.
Leaving spaces between vehicles would drastically reduce the capacity of a road. Nor do I see the convoys being very long*. So delays in joining the end of one would not be long.

*On busy highways cars would be banned. People would travel in buses. So you can replace 40 cars with one standard bus. So the number of lanes this alone saves is huge. Then add in the fact that there is no distance between vehicles then you only need one lane which would be underutilised.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 05:47 PM   #612
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Leaving spaces between vehicles would drastically reduce the capacity of a road. Nor do I see the convoys being very long*. So delays in joining the end of one would not be long.

*On busy highways cars would be banned. People would travel in buses. So you can replace 40 cars with one standard bus. So the number of lanes this alone saves is huge. Then add in the fact that there is no distance between vehicles then you only need one lane which would be underutilised.
Of course if you're now speaking of no cars at all it's a different matter, no doubt, and I've been arguing from the start that the idea of simply automating the fleet is silly compared to improving public transit, but that's a different matter from simply banning cars from large areas of the country.

But I think you exaggerate the idea of road capacity. The road is a conduit, not a container, and if the convoy is spread out thinner, the difference in arrival time that spacing vehicles makes will be trivial. The longer the distance, the less important the tailgating becomes. If you leave on a long trip and average 60 miles an hour, and I leave on the same trip at the same speed a mile behind you, I'll arrive a minute after you do, even if we drive across the country.

If, as originally suggested, the vehicles waiting to join a convoy are appended as a group to the end as it passes by an entrance, the convoy will end up becoming longer with every entrance no matter how short it is at the start.

I'm not sure just where all this business is going to take place, either. Will there be separate highways for the cars Let us say, for example, that (as I have many times) I am driving from Vermont to Georgia, a journey that passes through a number of urban areas where traffic becomes very dense, and on and off ramps come quite close together. If cars are banned on such a highway, what happens to through traffic? Does one park at one end, get on the bus, baggage, bicycles, canoe and all, and then find another car at the other end?

Who is going to pay for all this?
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Old 23rd April 2018, 05:54 PM   #613
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I swear reading some years back that much of the very early work with autonomous vehicles was specifically geared towards military convoys. Pack the convoy together bumper to bumper as fast as the road surface allows, ram through a whole bunch of supplies as quickly as possible.

Convoy traffic may be one of the simpler issues for self driving, being the first part to have been worked on.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 07:10 PM   #614
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
I swear reading some years back that much of the very early work with autonomous vehicles was specifically geared towards military convoys. Pack the convoy together bumper to bumper as fast as the road surface allows, ram through a whole bunch of supplies as quickly as possible.

Convoy traffic may be one of the simpler issues for self driving, being the first part to have been worked on.
I imagine it would work pretty well for military convoys. A human driver at the head could essentially control a huge string of vehicles behind, for example. I'd be sorry to run into that kind of operation on the public highway though.
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Old 23rd April 2018, 11:46 PM   #615
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I want to point out again that I am speaking of a hypothetical idealistic future. I am not intending to suggest that what I am describing is possible now. I just want to make that very clear.
Understood, but the technical considerations are still interesting. For example, vehicles will need to 'publish' their intended route even before it becomes physically obvious what route they're taking. The point being that a convoy on the motorway might need to begin slowing even before a vehicle that intends to join the motorway gets onto the entry ramp.

Consider the interchange below, with a vehicle approaching from 12 o'clock. It might be aiming to swing around the gyratory and exit that at 6 o'clock, or peel off and join the motorway at 9 o'clock. If the latter, then the convoy might need to start slowing even before that becomes visually apparent. Technically manageable perhaps, but not in the transition period where AVs are mixed with meat drivers. It adds a layer of technology (therefore expense) that might take decades to be of any real use.
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Old 24th April 2018, 12:18 AM   #616
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One potentially workable possibility is a future in which motorways are reserved for autonomous lorries and coaches, with a car park and bus station at every junction.
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Old 24th April 2018, 12:22 AM   #617
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Of course if you're now speaking of no cars at all it's a different matter, no doubt, and I've been arguing from the start that the idea of simply automating the fleet is silly compared to improving public transit, but that's a different matter from simply banning cars from large areas of the country.

But I think you exaggerate the idea of road capacity. The road is a conduit, not a container, and if the convoy is spread out thinner, the difference in arrival time that spacing vehicles makes will be trivial. The longer the distance, the less important the tailgating becomes. If you leave on a long trip and average 60 miles an hour, and I leave on the same trip at the same speed a mile behind you, I'll arrive a minute after you do, even if we drive across the country.

If, as originally suggested, the vehicles waiting to join a convoy are appended as a group to the end as it passes by an entrance, the convoy will end up becoming longer with every entrance no matter how short it is at the start.

I'm not sure just where all this business is going to take place, either. Will there be separate highways for the cars Let us say, for example, that (as I have many times) I am driving from Vermont to Georgia, a journey that passes through a number of urban areas where traffic becomes very dense, and on and off ramps come quite close together. If cars are banned on such a highway, what happens to through traffic? Does one park at one end, get on the bus, baggage, bicycles, canoe and all, and then find another car at the other end?

Who is going to pay for all this?
It is one option to take a car or minibus to the highway then catch a bus to wherever. The car or minibus can then go elsewhere. The reverse procedure on the other end.

Convoys may not get longer at every intersection. There would be ideally some vehicles leaving there. Unless it is a highway where everyone wants to go from somewhere to one end. This could be true if one end is work or a major sporting event.

This sort of thing will take decades to arrive. Will have to redesign entire cities. For example not many people will want garages or driveways. This takes up a significant % of a block of land with one house or even a block of flats.

Who pays for it is another question. Not going there.
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Old 24th April 2018, 06:07 AM   #618
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Of course if you're heading for a city, having a car park and switching to public transit makes sense, but having the system here described inherently bans through traffic. To design a separate set of highways for through traffic would require, I think, a rather complex set of new highways and rearrangements of old ones.

Of course all this stuff is possible in the abstract. All it requires is that everything be redesigned. Different cities, different housing, different ways of life, a different way of getting places, a different idea of ownership, not only of vehicles but of everything else.

Get on an interstate highway and look around. Sure, a great many people are just commuting, and could, and probably should, be using public transit. But many are passing through, and a small but significant number are pulling campers, toting bicycles and boats, lawn maintenance trailers, etc. A system that makes it impossible to do this means that one would not only have to give up the individual ownership of cars, but of all those things as well. If you can't get it from one place to another you can't use it.

While you're at it, look at the trucks. Sure, a fair number are going to exit into the city, but far more are passing through. That's what interstate highways are for. Trucks cross the entire country. A long convoy may shorten a little from time to time, but it will stay long and will get longer over a distance.

Part of the problem now is the lack of good public transit. Somehow the solutions being put forth seem bass-ackwards. Instead of addressing the current problems by improving public transit, they first create new and expensive problems, and then end up solving them by improving public transit.
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Old 24th April 2018, 09:19 AM   #619
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
I swear reading some years back that much of the very early work with autonomous vehicles was specifically geared towards military convoys. Pack the convoy together bumper to bumper as fast as the road surface allows, ram through a whole bunch of supplies as quickly as possible.
I would think that a military convoy should be intentionally spaced out since avoiding being a target would be much more important than fuel economy.
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Old 24th April 2018, 09:52 AM   #620
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Originally Posted by jrhowell View Post
I would think that a military convoy should be intentionally spaced out since avoiding being a target would be much more important than fuel economy.
Often such convoys would be behind any front line. I guess it might also be easier to protect a compact convoy than a dispersed one as well.
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Old 24th April 2018, 11:25 AM   #621
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Originally Posted by jrhowell View Post
I would think that a military convoy should be intentionally spaced out since avoiding being a target would be much more important than fuel economy.
That takes longer. Open the corridor, zip through a whole bunch of trucks and things real fast so you don't need to keep the route secure for very long. Think moving the coalition forces to flank the Iraqi forces in the 1991 war.
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Old 24th April 2018, 11:29 AM   #622
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In the UK military the desired spacing is 70m in open road, a bit wider on motorway and dual carriageway. Closing up in built up areas. It allows people to overtake the trailing vehicles safely. Things may change in operational theatres, closing distances to prevent overtaking, but allowing sufficient distance to allow for the risk of IEDs. Certainly not convoy platooning!
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Old 24th April 2018, 11:36 AM   #623
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Experience in Iraq is that trying to overtake US convoys is EXTREMELY ill advised, even if you are in a UK Battlefield Ambulance with blues and twos on and a casualty in the back almost bleeding out. Twats, my opinion went down majorly. Too self important to give a damn about anyone else, even if it was one of their own (not in this case though).
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Old 24th April 2018, 11:44 AM   #624
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Understood, but the technical considerations are still interesting. For example, vehicles will need to 'publish' their intended route even before it becomes physically obvious what route they're taking. The point being that a convoy on the motorway might need to begin slowing even before a vehicle that intends to join the motorway gets onto the entry ramp.

Consider the interchange below, with a vehicle approaching from 12 o'clock. It might be aiming to swing around the gyratory and exit that at 6 o'clock, or peel off and join the motorway at 9 o'clock. If the latter, then the convoy might need to start slowing even before that becomes visually apparent. Technically manageable perhaps, but not in the transition period where AVs are mixed with meat drivers. It adds a layer of technology (therefore expense) that might take decades to be of any real use.
Within the convoy this isn't difficult. Driving in convoy with walkie talkies makes movement at junctions easy, doing so electronically with GPS would be easy.
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Old 24th April 2018, 01:40 PM   #625
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Originally Posted by Mikemcc View Post
Within the convoy this isn't difficult. Driving in convoy with walkie talkies makes movement at junctions easy, doing so electronically with GPS would be easy.
Conventional driving 'in convoy' leaves (we hope) decent spaces between trucks for other vehicles to move in and out. If not, they're driving dangerously.

If the car entering on the ramp is destined, at typical speeds, to merge half way down a tightly-packed 30-truck AV convoy, or grind to a halt on the ramp while the convoy passes, and later have insufficient road to accelerate up to the general speed of the traffic?

"It's easy, because technology can do this stuff" is no substitute for analysis. Man, I'm so sick of the number of times I read here about how tech and robots will solve every problem. It's magical thinking, blind faith verging on religious.

At what point does that convoy note the difficulty about to be faced by the car on the ramp, and what action does the convoy take? The 60mph convoy slows to 40mph a mile before, even when the car entering is not AV and announcing its presence and intentions? The convoy can't know, because the car isn't even on the freaking ramp yet. The car is, as we Brits say, "stuffed".
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Old 25th April 2018, 10:45 AM   #626
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Originally Posted by jrhowell View Post
I would think that a military convoy should be intentionally spaced out since avoiding being a target would be much more important than fuel economy.
Recall the scene in Patton, where Patton shoots the mules bottling up the convoy.
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Old 25th April 2018, 06:58 PM   #627
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We might be imagining a future where vehicles are autonomous but nothing else changes, and there are going to be a great number of changes in how we shop, work, etc. Drone deliveries, improved fuel efficiency and a declining need for personal vehicles could mean we'll be transported in Smart-type car pods that can carry several people and allow us to be productive in the hour or so round trip commute many of us have. That could mean fewer acres in cities given over to asphalt for parking vehicles that will be idle for 8 hours. If that happens there might be room for more urban gardens that affect a city's livability.

Some people drive for pleasure, like my ex who loves the open road and laughed at my conception of cars as "appliances." But that's exactly what they are for me. I prefer not having to drag 2 tons of vehicle with me wherever I go. When a self-driving, smart fleet can approach the functionality of personal vehicles, the gains might be broader that we are currently imagining.

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Old 25th April 2018, 07:55 PM   #628
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
When a self-driving, smart fleet can approach the functionality of personal vehicles, the gains might be broader that we are currently imagining.
Indeed, although I worry that what will actually happen is that people will decide that since they can be productive, or nap, during their commute, it will be ok to live in that far distant suburb, and it will just increase urban sprawl.

Still, I'm willing to take the chance. I want self driving cars, as soon as possible, because I hate driving. I just don't know how long it will be until they are truly ready.
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Old 26th April 2018, 02:34 PM   #629
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Indeed, although I worry that what will actually happen is that people will decide that since they can be productive, or nap, during their commute, it will be ok to live in that far distant suburb, and it will just increase urban sprawl.

Still, I'm willing to take the chance. I want self driving cars, as soon as possible, because I hate driving. I just don't know how long it will be until they are truly ready.
I want them because I love driving, but I hate other drivers. I'm willing to give up driving so as not to have to deal with all the other idiots on the road.
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Old 26th April 2018, 03:04 PM   #630
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Indeed, although I worry that what will actually happen is that people will decide that since they can be productive, or nap, during their commute, it will be ok to live in that far distant suburb, and it will just increase urban sprawl.
I keep thinking of self-driving RV campers. Make dinner, watch a movie on a real TV, sleep in a real bed - wake up to a nice morning 600 miles away , fresh and rested and ready for the next day of the road trip. It could add a whole new dimension to vacations.
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Old 26th April 2018, 07:16 PM   #631
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
I keep thinking of self-driving RV campers. Make dinner, watch a movie on a real TV, sleep in a real bed - wake up to a nice morning 600 miles away , fresh and rested and ready for the next day of the road trip. It could add a whole new dimension to vacations.
That reminds me of an old urban legend, which I actually read first in about 1970 in a Popular Science "Shop Talk" column, in which a person (usually characterized as a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe) buys a spiffy new RV, sets the cruise control, and then gets up and goes back for a beer. It turned up again in the 1980's in one of the urban legends collections (The Choking Doberman, I think).
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Old 27th April 2018, 11:22 AM   #632
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
I keep thinking of self-driving RV campers. Make dinner, watch a movie on a real TV, sleep in a real bed - wake up to a nice morning 600 miles away , fresh and rested and ready for the next day of the road trip. It could add a whole new dimension to vacations.


This is what I want as well. I'm hoping it will be available in time for my retirement
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Old 27th April 2018, 11:42 AM   #633
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Wait...

My RV has a liquor cabinet, my RV has cruise control.
Are you saying, on these long straight stretches, that I shouldn't be...
Aww damn, nevermind.



I wish I could find it again but... I think in the The Gods Must Be Crazy sequel, the hapless lorry driver (it looks like an open sided, hard topped pontoon party boat on wheels, bench seating for the tourists etc.) is alone on an open flat stretch and he just leaves it putting along in the otherwise empty road track at ~ 10 MPH and walks to the rear to make a cocktail.


He does also get his hat blown off and has to jump off, run back to pick it up, and then catch his slowly departing truck.
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Old 27th April 2018, 11:48 AM   #634
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
That reminds me of an old urban legend, which I actually read first in about 1970 in a Popular Science "Shop Talk" column, in which a person (usually characterized as a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe) buys a spiffy new RV, sets the cruise control, and then gets up and goes back for a beer. It turned up again in the 1980's in one of the urban legends collections (The Choking Doberman, I think).
I don't recall the eastern European bit, but it was once a standard legend.
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Old 27th April 2018, 11:59 AM   #635
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
I don't recall the eastern European bit, but it was once a standard legend.
What do you mean "legend"?

It's okay, I can type now, I've pulled over and stopped.

What else is stepping back into the coach good for but to keep the coppers from seeing me typing on my phone?

---

Yes... I'd love a safe, fully autonomous vehicle.
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Old 27th April 2018, 01:05 PM   #636
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
Wait...

My RV has a liquor cabinet, my RV has cruise control.
Are you saying, on these long straight stretches, that I shouldn't be...
Aww damn, nevermind.



I wish I could find it again but... I think in the The Gods Must Be Crazy sequel, the hapless lorry driver (it looks like an open sided, hard topped pontoon party boat on wheels, bench seating for the tourists etc.) is alone on an open flat stretch and he just leaves it putting along in the otherwise empty road track at ~ 10 MPH and walks to the rear to make a cocktail.


He does also get his hat blown off and has to jump off, run back to pick it up, and then catch his slowly departing truck.
I think that's actually in the original, in which the character whose name I forget, who runs a safari tour bus, does this while driving on the Kalahari desert. The protagonist (whose name I also forget) has a running gag with his Land Rover, whose brakes do not hold, and whose engine cannot be turned off, when he comes to gates that must be opened, finally realizing at certain points that he can just let it go and it will roll back.

I actually had a vehicle much like that once, and found that part of the movie hilarious. I had an old Scout whose starter would not work when it was hot, and whose parking brake was also broken. I would stop on various hummocks and hills to balance it, and carried a hunk of square metal column beside the seat, which I could throw behind a front wheel while still seated. When it was time to resume, I'd go forward some, to where I could lean out the door and pick it up again. It worked pretty well.

I should add that the reason for this was simple. IN order to repair the starter on one of those Scouts one had either to remove the entire engine and transmission, or cut a hole in the floor. Eventually, figuring I probably would have to cut a hole in the floor, I consulted a local garage to see if they had a better solution. The owner showed me the hole he'd cut in his Scout's floor.
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Old 27th April 2018, 11:35 PM   #637
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
That reminds me of an old urban legend, which I actually read first in about 1970 in a Popular Science "Shop Talk" column, in which a person (usually characterized as a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe) buys a spiffy new RV, sets the cruise control, and then gets up and goes back for a beer. It turned up again in the 1980's in one of the urban legends collections (The Choking Doberman, I think).
Were you ever a denizen of a.f.u.? I cut my sceptic teeth there many years ago.
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Old 28th April 2018, 07:05 PM   #638
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It's so funny watching the majority of discussion be essentially arguing over how great one thinks the state of "computing" is (and/or will be). Whilst almost completely ignoring a bigger question of if/why "autonomous vehicles" are even needed or desired. That's maybe especially egregious considering the premise of being locked up in a vehicle that's being "magically" guided along at 70 MPH goes against virtually every survival instinct nature gave us. Promise, if roller coasters didn't have rails there would be a lot less riders.

That anyone could/would genuinely believe we imperfect humans can somehow "program" a machine so flawlessly that it will be perfect at all times while interacting with an untold amount of other unique autonomous machines also working perfectly and going 70 MPH in all manner of other directions will forever baffle my apparently tiny brain. Don't forget, the entire premise not only requires but promises every machine will work perfectly every second.

Anyone seriously think autonomous machines could do it better than this?

We can't get the "leading edge technology" self checkout at the store to work properly (not including always stumbling at the age verification portion of the interrogation transaction [so much so they've disallowed using the self checkout on anything that needs an age verification]), but somehow we're gonna zoom right past the petty foibles of some innocuous non-lethal activity and perfectly program 300 million potentially lethal vehicles to drive themselves around the countryside in such perfect harmony they will never run into each other nor kill any people? Really? That could be called a 'leap of faith' in a reasoned world. How is the machine with no conscience (nor consciousness nor many other things) gonna make sure it doesn't kill people? How will it even know what people are? Is somebody gonna sit it down and tell it the straight skinny? Maybe show it a picture of Stormy Daniels?

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Old 28th April 2018, 08:10 PM   #639
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Originally Posted by HarryHenderson View Post
It's so funny watching the majority of discussion be essentially arguing over how great one thinks the state of "computing" is (and/or will be). Whilst almost completely ignoring a bigger question of if/why "autonomous vehicles" are even needed or desired. That's maybe especially egregious considering the premise of being locked up in a vehicle that's being "magically" guided along at 70 MPH goes against virtually every survival instinct nature gave us. Promise, if roller coasters didn't have rails there would be a lot less riders.

That anyone could/would genuinely believe we imperfect humans can somehow "program" a machine so flawlessly that it will be perfect at all times while interacting with an untold amount of other unique autonomous machines also working perfectly and going 70 MPH in all manner of other directions will forever baffle my apparently tiny brain. Don't forget, the entire premise not only requires but promises every machine will work perfectly every second.

Anyone seriously think autonomous machines could do it better than this?

We can't get the "leading edge technology" self checkout at the store to work properly (not including always stumbling at the age verification portion of the interrogation transaction [so much so they've disallowed using the self checkout on anything that needs an age verification]), but somehow we're gonna zoom right past the petty foibles of some innocuous non-lethal activity and perfectly program 300 million potentially lethal vehicles to drive themselves around the countryside in such perfect harmony they will never run into each other nor kill any people? Really? That could be called a 'leap of faith' in a reasoned world. How is the machine with no conscience (nor consciousness nor many other things) gonna make sure it doesn't kill people? How will it even know what people are? Is somebody gonna sit it down and tell it the straight skinny? Maybe show it a picture of Stormy Daniels?

Sergei Brin: "Hey PM, see this picture of these odd looking soft fleshy forms? Don't kill the people who have them."
Perfect Machine: "What do you mean by kill?"
While I think in many ways you are right, I think you miss the point that some here are making (with which I also disagree but that doesn't mean I don't see it). Motor vehicle accidents and deaths are huge in this country at least, and the contention is that nothing close to perfection will be needed to reduce that substantially.

I have continually argued that the argument grabs the statistical axe at the wrong end, and is poised to produce a utilitarian nightmare in which, though the rate of accidents is drastically reduced, the ones that remain will be horrific and random - replacing many deaths that overwhelmingly affect the worst drivers with fewer that fall on many fewer, but with gruesomely inexorable equality.

I have also continually argued that solving the problems inherent in depending too much on cars by making the cars better is an inefficient way of going about it, a bit like solving the problem of school shootings by making the students wear bullet proof vests.

And, of course I have also suggested that one of the principal victims of the utilitarian sweep will be rural life in pretty much its entirety.

But many of the advocates of this technology have answers that, satisfying or not, do in some way address those concerns, because whenever they are presented, it is not hard to say we must simply change everything. Change the way we own cars, change the places we may take them, change the highways, change the cities, change the countryside, change the economy, change how and where we live....everything is possible.

I have no doubt that technology can and will solve many problems that seem difficult now. I am far less convinced either that it should, or that this is the best application of technology.

As you've no doubt been following here, and on the other autonomous car thread, one of the issues recently has been the feasibility of autonomous truck convoys. All the problems you come up with will be solved by technology. And no doubt, if it happens, most of the time most of the trucks will operate with admirable safety and efficiency. It will all work like the electric train set of your dreams. But every once in a while a tire will burst or a part assembled somewhere by another set of robots will fail, and instead of a couple of truck drivers sometimes doing marvels of skill and avoidance and sometimes messing up, crashing and dying, fifty trucks will explode in a massive fireball, and no doubt some people will be killed too, and maybe an overpass will be demolished, and so forth. But it won't happen often, and statistically, it will still be safer.

After all, statistically, if autonomous cars never drive drunk or fall asleep at the wheel or take trips on bald tires and rattling tierods, a huge number of deaths will be prevented. They wouldn't have to even slow down for bicyclists. They could kill them all and they'd still come out statistically ahead.
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Old 30th April 2018, 06:20 PM   #640
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TY bruto for the thoughtful reply. I know we agree on this matter far more than we don't. I had a rather lengthy response written that somehow got lost to the ghost in the machine so I'll keep it brief. I do think there's a giant chasm between the idea (now) and any kind of appreciable/ubiquitous vehicle implementation in the future. I'll predict 50 years from now we'll still have a steering wheel.

AVs seem like a good "idea", but good ideas exist only in the abstract, it's their genuine come-to-life reality that ultimately has to dictate their good idea-ness or not, and so far this AV push been void of anything even close to their reality. Maybe I don't count getting a vehicle to go from point A to point B on its own without direct human input that great of an advancement. A great advancement would be to do it in every place, condition and time for at least 100 MILLION miles with not one fatality¹. Until we achieve at least that it would be within the definition of stupid (if not careless, oppressive and dangerous) to otherwise implement anything AV ubiquitously.

Giant chasm I tell ya.
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