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Transportation Toys

L.A. Artist Contemplates Future Traffic Flow, With Hot Wheels 118

Posted by timothy
from the finally-a-reason-to-visit-los-angeles dept.
John3 writes "American artist Chris Burden is finishing up his latest work titled Metropolis II for display this fall in Los Angeles. There's a fascinating five minute documentary on YouTube about his miniature city and the traffic that flows through it. He comments 'The idea that a car runs free, those days are about to close.' Whether you agree or disagree, he certainly has built one of the coolest Hot Wheels layouts I've ever seen."
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L.A. Artist Contemplates Future Traffic Flow, With Hot Wheels

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  • 'The idea that a car runs free, those days are about to close.'

    "About to close"? Laugh at mental picture of hordes of people trapped in long rush hours jams on a at least twice a day basis for years feeling like their cars has been running free all that time.

    • 'The idea that a car runs free, those days are about to close.'

      Does anyone have a clue what the hell he means by this quote?

      • I imagine it has something to do with this design involving cars on set tracks, rather than free-to-navigate roads.
      • by iamhassi (659463)

        'The idea that a car runs free, those days are about to close.'

        Does anyone have a clue what the hell he means by this quote?

        Guessing he means the days of us manually driving our cars is almost over, that they'll be self-driving like the google car that crashed the other day [slashdot.org]

        • But we'll still tell the car where to go, so we'll still be free in that respect?
          • As long as the destination you tell it is on it's list of destinations. Meaning, a parking garage at a highrise apartment building along a rapid transit corridor, the valet drop-off point for a gated estate, one of the approved shopping malls, etc.

            People like me who live 'out in the wild' as far as most GPS Navigation Maps in cars are concerned will just have to wing it somehow.

        • by Ironchew (1069966)

          google car that crashed the other day

          A person was driving that when it crashed. No robot apocalypse here, move along.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        He means that the days of free-range cars are going to end due to factory-farmed cars being so much cheaper.

        *sad panda*

      • >> 'The idea that a car runs free, those days are about to close.'
        > Does anyone have a clue what the hell he means by this quote?

        In means in about a ~100 years, a human won't have the freedom to drive their car -- they will delegate the safety of driving and managing traffic density to an automated vehicle. You will put in their destination and dedicated roads that will ONLY accept computer-controlled cars will minimize the time needed to travel to your destination.

        Think about it -- every car is P2

        • Great pipe dream.
          What will really happen, however, is that any time someone in charge wants to be re-elected, or want funding for something he/she will make the roads run slower(though selective false info, etc) until people vote to fix it.

          On top of that, someone will figure out how to get priority for their cars, and that will further mess things up. And that's on top of the kids who will mess things up *just* to cause problems.

          Sorry, but any system that's computer controlled can be exploited, either by th

        • well main roads can be auto drive but rural and maybe parking lot's can be manual.

          The start of any kind of auto drive system will be auto drive road ways and it will take time to get rid of the old cars. Also trucks may need there own system as well.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            An example of this would be "smart roads," as people were calling them about 15 years ago, where you lay wires into the roads, which are basically virtual rails they can follow. This eases automation to an incredible degree vs. the high-end computer vision approach. For the foreseeable future of course it would only be built into expensive, high-volume roads that get resurfaced fairly frequently.
        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          In means in about a ~100 years, a human won't have the freedom to drive their car -- they will delegate the safety of driving and managing traffic density to an automated vehicle. You will put in their destination and dedicated roads that will ONLY accept computer-controlled cars will minimize the time needed to travel to your destination.

          That sounds great, can't happen soon enough. I really enjoy driving, so as soon as the bulk of the ovine plodders are bimbling along automated guided motorways in only a

          • by Pope (17780)

            There's nothing about driving on a motorway/interstate highway that's the least bit aimed at the enthusiast. Automate those (mainly to stop the morons from cutting across 3 lanes to their exit at the last minute) to give all vehicles on them a higher average speed, and save the fun side roads for us fun-loving bikers and drivers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But he has run hundreds of unpowered toy cars downhill along pre-set non-intersecting routes - don't you see how that makes him an expert on traffic flow?

    • by dcw3 (649211)

      "About to close"? Laugh at mental picture of hordes of people trapped in long rush hours jams on a at least twice a day basis for years feeling like their cars has been running free all that time.

      I blame the Tea Party. Oh, wait, wrong article.

  • Annoying closeups (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Saturday August 06, 2011 @07:34PM (#37011298)
    The video mostly consists of annoying closeups of tiny parts of the contraption.

    For a few seconds of a full view on the quite impressive thing, jump to about 4:30 [youtube.com].
    • That was a nice segment of video. I had the same complaint.

      I don't think cars are going to stop running on the road. I think more likely we'll switch to electric cars. I know my car has 110,000 miles on it, and I want to see how far I go before I buy an electric car. Once I get an electric car, I'll buy some land, and a solar array so I'll pay next to nothing to drive.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        It's all closeups because it's really just a commercial, a tease for the exhibit at the museum.

        Switching power sources will help polution and eventually cost, but not congestion. There's a limit on the density achievable by big vehicles moving independently. That said, the US is not one of the more dense nations around and won't be anytime soon (our own population growth has now shifted to places like Texas that are less overcrowded) so I would be surprised if it isn't China that takes the lead in this

        • I would like to see smart car technology really starting to get widespread. Cars that sync with each other based on destination and form self-driven chains to minimize gas consumption and space usage. That'd be not just really cool, also very practical. Of course, public transport is the obvious low tech solution that would make sense if so many Americans weren't ideologically against it...

          • /. has previously covered the idea of "road trains", which basically describe what you're talking about. They're basically just cars that enter and exit independently, but operate as a unit while they are on the highway, enabling them to move much more smoothly and with much less space between them. My bet is that we'll start seeing it before too much longer (10-15 years*), with HOV lanes (or some equivalent) becoming restricted for cars of this sort. Eventually more and more highway lanes will become restr

        • by Chuffpole (765597)

          But the annoying close ups don't convey just how magnificent it really is. When I finally reached the wide view I was really surprised at the size of it, and I wanted to see it for myself in real life, much more than I got from the close ups. We need a sense of scale, don't we?

          And why does every shot of anything these days have to come from a moving camera? Are our attention spans REALLY so poor now that we would mentally drift away if we were presented with a static shot (but still containing motion)?

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        I think the artist's idea is that in the future we will have fully separate lanes on major roadways with cars driving automatically at really high velocities. With fully separate lanes an automatic car need only worry about not hitting the car ahead of them, since the car would be unable to leave the lane. So no worrying about the car in the next lane cutting you off, etc.

        Obviously in practice the there would be the on and off ramps, and periodic opportunities to change lanes, but even so, the cars would ba

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Would work fine in places with nice weather year round, but I'd like to see a computer controlled car handle the Canadian winter, before the plows have a chance to get out. Or when the snow is falling so hard, it doesn't matter that the plow just went by an hour ago.
          • I misunderstood him. I thought he was saying,"Gas is going to be expensive, so less cars will be on the road."

            What he is actually saying is,"Cars will run on tracks?" Sure that is reasonable. I've been thinking that for a while. Make new cars able to run on a rail system or guide by wire, and make the HOV lane into this track. If you have a car that runs on it, that is cool, if not, stay in normal lanes. If widespread adoption of a track car catches on, make more lanes dedicated towards it

            The prob
          • by hellop2 (1271166)
            Just have little snow plows/blowers every x cars.
        • by wasme (35127)

          I could be wrong, but the impression I got from the video was that the artist wasn't trying to produce a [realistic] model of traffic flow (future, present, or past) at all. I think people get confused when he makes the comment about the cars' going 230 miles per hour and how that gives him 'hope for the future.' I don't think that's equivalent to saying 'this is (my idea of) the traffic flow of the future.'

          A couple of quotes from the artist in the video I think show otherwise:

          "the idea that the car runs free. Those days are about to close. So it's a little bit like making a model of New York city at the turn of the last century and your modeling horse buggies everywhere and then the automobile is about to arrive. So something else is about to arrive."

          So he's making a 'model' of a

    • by berashith (222128)

      too bad i got sick of the artsy focus and just quit watching before I read this comment. I may go back and try again, after the headache that it caused has left me.

      This will teach me to never again read any links from the summary, just jump straight into the comments.

    • Thanks for this post. I'm one of those guys who always starts the video at the 50% point to skip the pointless preamble. If you want some great still shots, check here [slashdot.org].
    • I think the annoying close-ups are to help offset the annoying lack of detail in the overview.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's hard to see the scale of the project since the video is presented as 'artsy'. The best view of it is at 4:32-4:52 where you see an overlook of the whole thing.

    • ..because they shot it with DSLR, I'm guessing, and didn't use a small enough aperture or even bother to carefully set the focus.
      • by Relyx (52619)

        I'm afraid it was almost certainly deliberate - that's why so many people are flocking to full-frame sensor DSLRs for affordable video. It's a very popular look.

  • If we built a closed-circuit freeway-style system we wouldn't be using cars now would we, we'd be using personal rapid transit because it'd be considerably cheaper to implement rather than retrofitting an entire country of cars.
  • Since it doesn't serve the ultra-rich, the right wing won't support it, no matter how much it might possibly help everyone.

    As for the left? They've long since given up doing anything big and useful, and have mostly turned into a reactionary set of frightened groups, who couldn't even begin to imagine doing something like Roosevelt did, losing all the progress they made, chunk by chunk, weeping all the while, but not actually doing anything meaningful enough to save the things they care about.

    We're too busy

    • by iamhassi (659463)

      Since it doesn't serve the ultra-rich, the right wing won't support it, no matter how much it might possibly help everyone.

      As for the left? They've long since given up doing anything big and useful....

      Ryan Fenton

      I know you're trolling, but after what happened this week would you really want to give the government control of our cars? I like the idea of being able to jump in my car and drive around regardless of whether or not Congress balances the next budget, don't you? Why would anyone want to give more control to the gov't after seeing how bad they just screwed up? Reminds me of a quote:
      "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it" -- George Santayana [wikipedia.org]

      • Why not? Back in the day, a government of the people managed to do a very good job creating the highway system, the internet, NASA, and overseeing the creation of modern science. Smart people CAN be used in the creation of such things - as long as "equal time" isn't always given to people with a direct interesting in sabotaging them at every step.

        Government CAN work, and can do things otherwise impossible - if so many in power weren't so busy trying to hack it all apart at every opportunity.

        Ryan Fenton

        • If you go back and read the history of Johnson when he was creating his Great Society, some of it is positively inspiring. His basic ideology was:

          * We should help the poor lift themselves out of poverty.
          * We should find the best experts in the world to figure out how to do it. Be scientific about it.

          It gives you a different idea of how things can be. It's not based on envy or even hurting the rich, it's about helping people. It's not surprising that people elected him, because most people will try to h
          • some of it is positively inspiring

            Too bad it didn't work.

            • Then how DO we help the poor?
              • Start by not wasting money on things that don't work.

                On a broader scale, there's really not much we can do - immigrants have been arriving in this country, penniless and not speaking the language, for centuries. The vast majority of them have nonetheless been wildly successful. The efforts to inculcate middle-class values in the underclass have been incredibly numerous, but all eventually have to face the reality that there are some people who are just not intelligent enough to put it all together in the
      • Unless you rather enjoy off-roading, and/or do an atypically large amount of driving within the confines of giant private holdings, the government does effectively control your car on every timescale but the very near term.

        Blacktop crumbles pretty quickly without upkeep, and pretty much only exists in most places because somebody eminent-domained their way through with state power and then paved with public money.

        Assorted mark-of-the-beast fantasies of having vehicles directly controlled by the Master
    • by Urkki (668283)

      Since it doesn't serve the ultra-rich, the right wing won't support it, no matter how much it might possibly help everyone.

      Would it require massive public spending?
      Would it increase private spending on cars?

      If answer is yes to just one of these questions, who do you think will reap the profits?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would the "right-wing" support the ultra-rich if they're not ultra-rich themselves? It makes no sense.

      I'm not American, but surely the right-wing (as you put it) merely wants to work, use the money to provide for themselves and live and let live.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      But for science, for basic infrastructure, for human rights, lower-than-upper-class living standards, for helping the bulk of the American people - progress on those fronts is now dead for a generation, given away by the democratic party that used to stand for them.

      Isn't the USA one of the countries that spend the most money in scientific research?
      In any case, the difference in funding between what I've seen in the US and what I've seen in Europe is impressive.

  • Seriously. However cool it may be, humans weren't meant to live this way... All packed on top of each other, so tightly that moving around one another is no longer possible to do with just a human brain... It's just badness, all the way down. In nature, overpopulation is naturally corrected for. Humans, ever so smart, are always finding ways to stick yet another finger in the proverbial dam. It's a beautiful piece of art in that it is totally, and utterly terrifying.
  • ...That hides a shining car!
    A brilliant red Barchetta,
    From a better vanished time.
    I fire up the willing engine!
    Responding with a roar!
    Tires spitting gravel,
    I commit my weekly crime!

    Sing it with me now!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAvQSkK8Z8U [youtube.com]

    This dude loves Rush. I love Rush.
    It's all coming together.

  • Given that traffic congestion is a type of shortage (a shortage of available space on a road at a given time of day), and that a shortage happens when when the price of an item is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand [wikipedia.org], the solution is made obvious: raise the price of freeway access just high enough to eliminate the traffic congestion, but no higher. Then lower the toll when demand is low, to give people the ability to economize. Variable tolls permanently eliminates any need to expand the

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Face it, the free market will not work in today's society. Why? Well simple, greed. Why bother competing on price when you can just have a un-written agreement with all the major players in the field to price your products and services the same? Why bother competing on value when you can just produce a crap product (and have noone even know the difference - eg. apples from China that are about as nutritious as a bit of cardboard).

      Why price the tolls on the highways according to market when you can make

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        Why price the tolls on the highways according to market when you can make more money due to your captive market?

        If you want to make more money, build fewer lanes. Then you can price the tolls according to the market and also make more money.

        And then you have the other side, the people who refuse to spend the money on the tolls and use the side roads rather then the highway.

        If the freeway lanes are nearly full because you've correctly priced them, then you can hardly blame the tolls if people are also takin

    • by bhtooefr (649901)

      Here's the problems with that philosophy.

      #1, if everything is a toll road in congested areas, the areas that have higher tolls between the living area and the working area will be depressed in value, making it more likely that low-income people will live there instead, meaning they're more likely to pay high tolls.
      #2, job availability won't be spread out to cheat the tolls, so the crappiest jobs will still most likely run you right into peak toll time. And for a lot of jobs, you can't just say, "oh, I'm goi

      • tax brackets screw over individuals that get just on the wrong side of the bracket, while giving individuals on the right side of the bracket an unfair advantage

        Given that only income that falls into the range of a given bracket is taxed at that bracket's rate, how is that so? A person $1 below the top of a bracket does pay less in taxes than a person $1 above the bottom of the next bracket up, that's true, but the difference, all else being equal, would only be a few cents.

        I suppose that we have the spare computing resources to calculate these things on a curve now without it being laborious, but it hardly seems like one of the major problems with our tax policy.

      • by hellop2 (1271166)
        Yeah, it doesn't work like that. Here's a tax calculator: http://www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm [moneychimp.com]
      • by Ichijo (607641)

        #1, if everything is a toll road in congested areas, the areas that have higher tolls between the living area and the working area will be depressed in value...

        Why not let the free market decide what properties in sprawling suburbs far from work centers is worth?

        #3, just because there's a toll making it more expensive to get there, doesn't mean that there'll be any less traffic...

        Of course it does. Look at a demand curve [wikipedia.org]. As price rises, demand falls, so if the price is high enough, demand falls to the leve

    • by John3 (85454)

      Bloomberg wanted to charge tolls to drive in NY during congested time periods...apparently London does something like this. [wikimedia.org]

    • This won't work because people don't make their own schedules - their boss does. Since the ones making the decision isn't the one impacted by the fee they will rarely take it into consideration as part of the decision. Likewise, people flying in for business meeting aren't going to plan their trip around the cost of tolls, if they even know it varies.

      The express lanes are an economic plus because it lets impatient people with money subsidize the cost of the road for everyone else. This doesn't extend to you

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        This won't work because people don't make their own schedules - their boss does.

        Actually, people make their own schedules in that they choose who to work for. Bosses will have to be flexible with their schedules or pay their employees more, or risk losing employees.

        Markets exist when consumers have choice between multiple competing providers.

        And they also exist even when consumers don't have a choice. Perfect competiton [wikipedia.org] isn't required.

  • Typical Slashdot readers are probably not aware of what Burden is actually notorious for in fine arts circles. As a relatively early performance artist back in the 70s, he had his hands nailed to a VW Beetle crucifixion-style. Apocryphal variants regarding this performance piece when I was in art school had him being fully nailed and driven around LA that way, which would certainly have upped the fun level had it only been true. (Just in case you might be wondering if his current interest in cars is in any
  • Considering recent theories about how small underpowered cars are really dangerous, this exhibit should be immediately destroyed to stop the public seeing these tiny unpowered little cars whizzing around in perfect harmony. It'll never happen! In the real world, thousands of leprechauns would be killed under the wheels of SUVs, 18-wheelers, Winnebagos and Segways the very second they drove onto the public roads in these things! Ban the tiny cars! BAN THEM!

  • To me it seems more like that past.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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