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AI Transportation

Will Robot Cabs Unjam the Streets? 280

An anonymous reader writes: The Atlantic has a story with some video of a traffic simulator showing just how the roads can be jammed up by people looking for a place to park. (You can play with the simulator too.) This has been suspected for a long time by many traffic researchers and city planners, but the simulator shows just how quickly the roads jam up after just a few of the blocks fill up with parked cars. The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride. They could change city life forever.
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Will Robot Cabs Unjam the Streets?

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  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:17PM (#50259313)

    They may work elsewhere but they will just get beaten up in Philadelphia.

  • It'll never happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:19PM (#50259317)

    Quite simply, it's not going to happen. While some people are comfortable sharing their stuff, the vast majority are rather possessive. They don't want to sit in someone else's filth. They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc. Efficiency is all well and good but reality is people are disgusting and we generally want to keep to ourselves because of it.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:45PM (#50259423)

      But think about other changes as well.

      Autonomous cars can be parked a lot closer than any cars that need to open doors to let people out. So think about a few parking garages advertising "robot rates" and cutting the parking stalls down to car-size+3-inches-on-three-sides. The cars drop off their human passengers and then pack themselves into the robot garages.

      Alternatively, if you're worried about someone soiling your pristine car, then charge enough to have it professionally cleaned before you want it back. And insist that the customers pay electronically so that you know EXACTLY who the offender was.

      • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:03PM (#50259515)
        Put the parking underground, far from anywhere. You can just signal your car when you want a ride. And put the roads underground in the cities too. The price of the real estate you free up for better use makes this worth the money. And you want a private car? Have the passenger cabin a detachable module. You get your "own" car without the expense of all the frame/suspension/tires/motors/batteries. And for long road trips you can put your cabin onto a gas car. You could probably work out some sort of turbo-lift system, so you step into your pod like it was an elevator, then it goes where you want.
        • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 06, 2015 @12:50AM (#50260961) Homepage

          And put the roads underground in the cities too. The price of the real estate you free up for better use makes this worth the money.

          Even if excavation and construction was cheap (it isn't) - the cost of moving all the infrastructure located beneath the streets would make this scheme cost prohibitive. And the real estate thus freed up would be pretty much useless because you wouldn't be able to build anything significant on top of it.

      • So no.

        But think about other changes as well.

        Autonomous cars can be parked a lot closer than any cars that need to open doors to let people out. So think about a few parking garages advertising "robot rates" and cutting the parking stalls down to car-size+3-inches-on-three-sides. The cars drop off their human passengers and then pack themselves into the robot garages.

        Again, I doubt it's going to happen as people dont want to have to wait in a line for 10 minutes at a designated pickup zone for their car to come when they can walk 2 minutes to go straight to their car.

        Alternatively, if you're worried about someone soiling your pristine car, then charge enough to have it professionally cleaned before you want it back. And insist that the customers pay electronically so that you know EXACTLY who the offender was.

        In the model they're talking about, you wont own the car. This another reason why their utopian vision will never come true. Personal car ownership is considered a right and necessity in many places.

        Autonomous cars will never be the traffic messiah people think they are. They wont be doing 200 MPH

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:55PM (#50259473) Homepage Journal

      Yeah I'm not super keen on renting out my Toyota Corolla or VW whatever car, but I would be willing to buy a car designed and maintained by uber, but I could take on road trips/extended whatever simply by turning "off" the taxi mode an hour or two ahead of when I need to use it, like going camping for the weekend or whatever.
       
      To avoid getting crappy uber users, just set your car to only accept fares from users with at least 100 rides and an average of 4.8 stars or higher (out of 5 = 96%). Yeah on that rare occasion you will get a drunken 5 star rider who barfs in your car, but just send the car over to the Uber service center to get it cleaned up at a minimal cost. Small, almost inconsequential price to pay for basically a free car, maybe even make a profit renting your car out while you sleep/work.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Yeah I'm not super keen on renting out my Toyota Corolla or VW whatever car, but I would be willing to buy a car designed and maintained by uber, but I could take on road trips/extended whatever simply by turning "off" the taxi mode an hour or two ahead of when I need to use it, like going camping for the weekend or whatever.

        Hi, it sounds like you dont understand Uber's business model. Would you like some help.

        Well stiff, you're getting some.

        Uber's business model consists of taking the profits whilst shifting as many costs as possible onto the vehicle owner as possible. So if you buy a car for Uber, you'll be paying the maintenance costs, some other manufacturer (Toyota, Renault, Tata, whoever) will pay the development costs. Ubers entire business model relies on them being the middleman for minimal cost to them.

        But yo

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I ride UIer about three times a week. I live just far enough from the office, and I have to pay for parking downtown that it's right at the tipping point where riding my bike or taking an uber boils down to the weather.

          That said, over half the drivers I talk to have been driving for over six months, and it's their primary source of income. None of them seem particularly malnourished. Right now it's about $4 for a ride in my city, I would imagine if you cut the driver out of the equation the cost wil

    • by twotacocombo ( 1529393 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:04PM (#50259529)

      They don't want to sit in someone else's filth. They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc.

      Yet millions of people still take public transportation every day.

      • They don't want to sit in someone else's filth. They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc.

        Yet millions of people still take public transportation every day.

        Most do it because they can't afford to own a car. That said, it's not a debate about public transportation. The efficiencies they're talking about only work if the majority or entire system goes automated. Once you reach that then you run into the public vs private debate of individual cars vs mass transit.

        • by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @07:12PM (#50259857)

          Most people who use mass transit use it because it is the most efficient way to get from A to B, not because they can't afford their own vehicle, nor because it's the cheapest option.

          Case in point: I stayed in Atlanta for a 4 day weekend at a convention downtown. I drove to my hotel, then used the hotel's free airport shuttle to the airport to take the subway/train system MARTA to downtown Atlanta and back daily (sometimes 3 or 4 round-trips in a day). It cost me all of $10... and it was the fastest way to get from my cheap hotel to downtown as there was also a ballgame and another convention as well and the roads were bumper to bumper. I rode the train several times a day - got my money's worth and met interesting convention-goers on the train. I took a taxi back to the hotel one night when I stayed out later than the trains ran.

          IF I had driven my car downtown to a lot, it would have taken two to three times as long - not to mention finding parking in busy downtown even with parking garages (I know - had a buddy that did that the next year we went), plus the cost of gas and parking for the day (for each day) would have been prohibitive. (We settled on staying at a guest hotel downtown the third year... no driving or trains. yay!)

          People in cities with mass transit often prefer it over having a vehicle... and they hate the tourists who bring their cars and don't know how to drive or where to park.

          But, back to your point -- you're incorrect. The efficiencies don't take hold when the vast majority of a system is automated -- they take place when only a small fraction is in place. There is a tipping point. If one single car stops to turn left into a parking garage, it can back up an entire left lane of traffic for a mile or more in a decent sized city. That's just one car. For each car that pauses to let someone out rather than turning and seeking parking, you get vast returns in traffic efficiency.

          If you must make the public vs private argument, then I'd say you're just arguing quality -- if people care enough, they'll get 2 tiered taxis. One for Uber and another for Super-Uber for those that want to ensure their car is squeaky clean. Most mass transit seats are plastic and easily washable. Cars could easily be outfitted with uncomfortable, but sanitary plastic seating and a bottle of alcohol spray for the germaphobes.

          Another aspect is that people junk up their cars with their own crap -- but, it's often stuff they want to keep, so they wouldn't be leaving that in Ubers... they'd just leave trash if they're litter-bugs. I bet Uber could record video and charge extra for damage or littering and put a stop to that (assuming it's paid by credit card).

          They key issues for ownership of vehicles are - utility, time, personalization, and storage. People like to keep their baby carriers in the vehicle... sometimes their drinks or other groceries, napkins, kleenex, lotion, sunglasses, etc. Sometimes people store presents in trunks to hide from family members.... various other things.

          The personal car isn't going away, but it could become an auto-driving personal car. Still, many families may only need 1 personal family car and use an Uber automated taxi for travelling to work, school, and most other short trips.

          • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @07:32PM (#50259919)

            Traffic studies/simulations have repeatedly shown that most traffic problems originate from a single car causing a chain reaction which amplifies. You would need a significant portion of the system automated to compensate for that. Either to avoid those problems in the first place or to compensate once the problem has occurred.

      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        Of course to be fair, those people are already taking public transportation and are already not contributing to the traffic problem in question. If they switch to robocabs it won't make any difference.

        Although in an ideal world that is at least some subset of people who are okay with public transportation in theory but don't currently find it practical. Personally i'd like to get a personal automated auto as soon as they're available, i'm not quite as enthusiastic about the robocab idea though.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Yet millions of people still take public transportation every day.

        Compared to public transportation:
        + Leaves from where you are
        + Going to where you want
        + When you want
        + In solitude

        Compared to private car:
        - No personalization
        - Potential left-overs

        I have a decent public transport offer where I live, but driving is 15 mins and 2x bus is 35 mins, 20 mins saved twice a day that's 40 mins. Times 225 working days that's 150 hours a year. I'm thinking that even though I need it daily it can do at least three rounds in the morning (7AM, 8AM, 9AM) and in the afternoon (3PM, 4PM, 5P

        • "Compared to public transportation:
          + Leaves from where you are
          + Going to where you want
          + When you want
          + In solitude"

          You know taxi cabs are also public transportation, right?

          And here comes the elephant in the room for this article: all that it says can also be applied to taxi cabs, which already exist and still the expected results aren't happening.

      • They don't want to sit in someone else's filth. They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc.

        Yet millions of people still take public transportation every day.

        when I take the train, yes it's a public space but unlike this own and lend out model I am not on the hook for a $40k car loan on it.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Why can't people in some countries respect public transport vehicles and keep them clean? Japanese trains and buses are immaculate. British ones vary by route, but especially buses can be quite filthy. From what I read US public transport is festering.

        Maybe some populations just can't be trusted to live considerately together, and massive traffic jams and circling looking for a parking space are the punishment.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:11PM (#50259571)
      There is a way to make it happen, but I doubt it will fly. Korea basically did this in the 1970s and 1980s. The government knew it didn't have the road infrastructure to support every household owning a car, so they taxed cars up the wazoo. A car that might cost $10,000 would cost $50,000 after taxes ($100,000 in today's dollars). This had the effect of severely discouraging car ownership. In its place, a robust taxi industry sprang up. I remember visiting downtown Seoul and 80%-90% of the cars on the road were taxis. There were no traffic jams, and if you didn't want to wait for a bus you could hail a taxi within 15-30 seconds.

      It all fell apart in 1988. One of the Democratic nominees for President (Gephardt if I remember), in a bid to win Michigan made a huge ruckus about how Hyundai was allowed to sell its cars for $6000 in the U.S., while an equivalent Ford cost $45,000 in Korea. He conveniently left out that the same Hyundai also cost $45,000 in Korea. He didn't win the nomination, but the damage was done. U.S. public sentiment forced the U.S. to pressure Korea to remove their car taxes. Cars in Korea suddenly became affordable to the average household, and Korea plummeted into two decades of gridlock.
    • my kid doesn't like buying used stuff because she says someone might have peed on it. If you're rich enough to matter your rich enough to have your own stuff.
    • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:17PM (#50259597) Homepage

      They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc. Efficiency is all well and good but reality is people are disgusting and we generally want to keep to ourselves because of it.

      I would have thought this would be a huge problem, but after using car2go for about a year, there is only one time where I've had a mess on the interior - some weird sticky stuff spilt on the passenger seat (which, luckily, I saw before I sat in it) - I suspect it was some takeout sauce spilled out from a container or something.

      In many other rides though the cars have been spotless. Generally (anecdotally obviously) the system of simply saying whether the car is clean or not from the previous driver seems to work to keep out bad actors in the system. Having to have your credit card details on file probably helps too.

      Overall though car2go is great; we don't own a car here so we use it all the time now.

      • I looked into things like that, they didn't make economic sense. Even with limited trips I'd be spending more on auto-sharing per month than owning my own vehicle. Granted my vehicle is fairly economical costing only $267/month over 14 years (all expenses included). Based on car2go rates, that would have been around $488/month

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      With the right systems, this is fixable. Simply have a button that says send back for cleaning. Make it no extra charge (work the cost into the base rate) so the person that messed up the cab has no disincentive to press the button. If they fail to press the button the next rider can and immediately get sent another This cab should be close by if not terribly under-provisioned for the load at that time.

      The system should be able to identify riders for billing purposes and could easily blacklist or apply

      • That sounds all well and great but think about the reality of it. You send your car out to make money, it comes back a mess right as you're about to head to that important [insert thing]. You need to send your car off to get cleaned, wait for another car, pay someone else to use it, and be late for that thing.

    • They don't want to sit in someone else's filth.

      You really need to start wearing trousers.

      • They don't want to sit in someone else's filth.

        You really need to start wearing trousers.

        Watch the mythbusters episodes on bathrooms and runny noses. ;)

    • I love that your response is that something wont work because of the idea that something pretty terrible is going to happen just about every time you're in it. Cabs have this stuff happen, and have had it happen from the beginning. There's nothing stopping you from pressing a button and having the automated cab return home for cleaning. In fact, it works even better, because to hail the cab, you'll likely need an account, and if you're known as someone who destroys the interior, you'd get charged and/or
      • Something people don't seem to notice about each other is that, in general, we're not actually that bad to one another. Some assholes will fuck things up, but if we were as bad as you worry, we'd never be able to have cities.

        You must be rich.

        • Haha, I wish. Last year I was on food stamps. Doing better this year but for the past three years I was living in an expensive city on 20k a year. I would kill for a proper car share to reduce the cost of taxis, to better recognize cyclists, and to keep texters from drifting between lanes
    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      Quite simply, it's not going to happen. While some people are comfortable sharing their stuff, the vast majority are rather possessive. They don't want to sit in someone else's filth. They don't want their car to drive off, pick up someone who has sex in it or their kid vomits or a pet shits, etc. Efficiency is all well and good but reality is people are disgusting and we generally want to keep to ourselves because of it.

      Guess that is why Uber never took off.

      • Point taken, though I would argue that the driver is self interested to keep their vehicle clean and because they are in the vehicle the passengers behave better than they would in a driverless vehicle.

    • Quite simply, it's not going to happen. Lol, it has already happened. You already have multiple car companies that will lease you cars for short periods of time, and the only difference is that they get parked at a drop point between customers. If the economics of owning your own car in a dense city prohibits people from owning their own cars, this will become one of the transportation models that will be widely used. Also, if you are speaking toward this never working for the public transportation, yo
      • Auto-share is a different beast than automated-share. With auto-share you have a company handling the details of insurance/transactions/fixing problems/cleaning and so on. You also have the ability to exclude people from the market entirely due to there being only a few companies in any one city. The automated-share the individual would have to handle all of that or pay someone to handle it for them. The former is a huge barrier for the limited profit and the later cuts into the limited profit and is es

    • Even personal robocars can drop you off and then drive far away to park. That alone should help a great deal with congestion.

    • Shared autonomous vehicles will have their place. High traffic work areas easily and anything that demands public transport (sporting games, movies, schools, etc)... and will easily threaten to replace subways and buses--yes, replace them. The urban planners will have a lot of headaches considering they are pushing these mix-use living areas integrated into public transportation, not considering it's more expensive and time consuming [construction] to put living quarters with the subway and a bus station, e

      • I completely agree. They'll very much have a place in the mix. I just don't think they'll ever have the critical mass to allow for some of the efficiency gains & widespread sharing that are being espoused. They'll just be another option among the many that are available. They'll have pros and cons like anything else in this world.

    • 1. They will know who used it last so if it is not right just take a picture and send it to the authorities.
      2. The people will either pay a huge fine or never able to use a car again.
      3. The car would probably do this as a precaution. It would take a picture of the inside and outside before and after each trip.
      4, If the car is attacked by an outside force of people than the occupant would call and report it to the police.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:19PM (#50259323)

    >> autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride

    I'm hoping "autonomous cars != end of personal car ownership." I still like to have my own passenger compartment that no one else has eaten in, thrown up in, etc. that I can maintain to my own standard of hygiene.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I've speculated on this before...

      I expect that subscribed-to sedan services will increase in popularity as a step above taxis. Paying more than a conventional taxi and giving the subscriber the ability to report/reject cars that are in poor condition will allows the service to charge and ban offenders that mess up cars. On top of that, there are services for school buses where an on-vehicle camera system records the trip to a local disk only and overwrites the recordings after so many days unless a rep
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride. They could change city life forever."

    This will not change with autonomous cars. If people didn't want to own cars, the above situation could exist _now_ -- they are or were called taxis/taxi cabs/cabs/hansom cabs/licensed hackney carriages.

    The reality is that people -- especially Americans, I suspect -- want to own cars. Only banning private vehicles from the streets or levying huge congestion charges on them

    • by erice ( 13380 )

      "The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride. They could change city life forever."

      This will not change with autonomous cars. If people didn't want to own cars, the above situation could exist _now_ -- they are or were called taxis/taxi cabs/cabs/hansom cabs/licensed hackney carriages.

      Yes and no. In principle people could do that and certain very high density areas, they already do. However, outside these areas, relying on taxis is too expensive and inconvenient. Further, the cost of car ownership is lower since parking one is neither difficult nor expensive.

      Autonomous vehicles will greatly reduce the cost of taxis. The cost reduction means there will be more of them so they will be more convenient too. I expect many more people will choose to go car-less in that environment.

      I don'

      • Autonomous cars would contact all nearby car parks for free space, make an instant reservation on any free space, and go there. Car owner would have to call his car say 10 mins before he wants to leave (or wait for it to arrive) so the car can leave the car park and head out to pick up its owner. This would to me be just a logical extension to fully autonomous cars.

        Those car parks would of course have to reserve some space for autonomous cars only or so, or maybe operate a mixed system, while there are stil

  • by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:23PM (#50259341)

    If cab drivers are going to riot in the street and inflict personal harm and property damage, who the hell thinks an autonomous car has a snowballs chance in hell ?

    • by sehlat ( 180760 )

      I'm pretty sure autonomous cars will have exterior video cameras which will show the perpetrators who damage the cars. Nothing like providing video evidence of misdoing, is there, as a growing number of cops are discovering?

    • Cabbies can't win (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:40PM (#50259405)

      If cab drivers are going to riot in the street and inflict personal harm and property damage, who the hell thinks an autonomous car has a snowballs chance in hell ?

      There are not enough cab drivers to cause a revolution on their own, and the people aren't with them. The state has far more power and will apply it to suppress personal harm and property damage, and the public will be with the state. Thus they can slow change by various methods--most notably bribery of elected officials and regulatory capture--but they cannot stop it entirely.

      Money is the only thing that would let them stop it entirely given those circumstances. (As we see with the health insurance industry which is able to largely prevent meaningful change. Obamacare came 16 years after Bill Clinton tried something bigger, after all.) And the industry doesn't have enough money to do that.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        On top of that, in markets with expensive, limited quantity licensing, cab companies (the ones that actually own the medallions) would have an interest in eliminating the driver from the equation. They could run as few or as many cars as there's a demand for. Private owner-operators that own one license and one car could still operate that car too, but now they wouldn't necessarily have to be with it the whole time.
      • by DaHat ( 247651 )

        There are not enough cab drivers to cause a revolution on their own, and the people aren't with them.

        First they came for the bank teller, I wasn't a bank teller so I said nothing.

        Then they came for the cab drivers, I wasn't a cab driver so I said nothing.

        Then they came for the long haul truck driver, I wasn't a truck driver so I said nothing.

        Then they came for my neighbors doctor job, I wasn't a doctor so I said nothing.

        Then they came for my son's pizza deliver job, it wasn't my job so I said nothing.

        Then t

        • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @08:32PM (#50260181)

          Then they came for my job, and no one was left to defend me.

          Alas you are thinking far too simply my friend. We are approaching a point where automation will potentially render a sizable portion of the population unemployable because a machine can do their job just as well, if not better and for a lesser cost in a world where Humans Need Not Apply [youtube.com]

          So, instead, I became an artist, and lived off my Universal Basic Income, which was granted to me by the abundance created by automation of all the drudge jobs.

          Well, except for Bill, in Passaic New Jersey, who has to press the red "there are still humans on the planet, please keep the light on" button every morning so that the robot factories don't shut down. Bill also wants to be an artist, but, no, he has to press the red button once a day. He's very unhappy that he's the only human left with an actual job, but ... frankly, Bill has always been a whiner, ever since we took away his red Swingline Stapler.

          Unless you happy to be one of those roboenablers who are seeking to bring about the robotic apocalypse... in which case I say: "Well played sir!"

          I'll *happily* build the S.O.B.'s, at least until they get to the point where they can build themselves... I'll even buy Bill a new stapler.

    • If cab drivers are going to riot in the street and inflict personal harm and property damage, who the hell thinks an autonomous car has a snowballs chance in hell ?

      Especially when all the Uber, Lyft, etc drivers realize that THEIR meal ticket won't get punched as much once the cheaper alternative shows up to ruin their little business... Sounds like fair play to me...

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      The Robot cars will fight back. It will get ugly.

  • It's a non-issue. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:44PM (#50259415) Journal
    The problem of congestion caused by people circling around looking for parking has already been solved [streetsblog.org]. Cities simply have to wake up to the fact that parking is both rivalrous [wikipedia.org] and excludable [wikipedia.org] and therefore neither a public good [wikipedia.org] nor should be treated as one.
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      Free parking leads to tragedy of the commons? Whenever I go to downtown SF, I note a few parking garages that are easy to enter and exit. And I accept that I will have to pay $20 or more to park there. I never never think of finding free parking as takes a lot of time, increases my anger, increases chances of traffic collision or worse hitting a person. Yes, parking can be expensive in SF but I usually be spending a lot more of wherever I am doing in that city. Phew, at least I don't have to work there.
  • Do you know what else doesn't need to park? A normal taxi. A bus or a subway car. The extent that suburban Americans will go to avoid taking public transit is nothing short of amazing. Yes, let's spend trillions to develop a network of driverless cars so suburbanites can enjoy city life without coming into contact with any of the city's grubby inhabitants.

  • Another Cure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:48PM (#50259445)
    Why is it that authorities are so ignorant that they allow projects to be built when a traffic and parking issue is obvious. For example an apartment house might have to meet a basic legal requirement of having four parking spaces per rental unit if they are one or two bedroom units and six spaces for three bedroom units. A theater that seats 1,000 should be required to provide parking for 1,500 cars. I am astounded that building and zoning commissions fail to demand adequate parking for every enterprise. Those parking spaces should also have a standard size for each car and none of the super tight parking allowed at all.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Cities have that. But then there's the whole bribing ecosystem that messes everything up.

      • Cities have that. But then there's the whole bribing ecosystem that messes everything up.

        it's those stupid humans again, the alien overloads will make you much happier

    • by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

      I'm a little curious as to in what universe you live in which each person brings 1.5 cars to the movie theater. Or four cars for a 1 bedroom apartment?

      • Re:Another Cure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @07:32PM (#50259917)

        I'm a little curious as to in what universe you live in which each person brings 1.5 cars to the movie theater.

        They need enough room in the parking lot to hold two theater's worth of people, unless you expect the lot to empty and fill instantaneously between shows.

  • Another thought... (Score:4, Informative)

    by singularity ( 2031 ) * <[nowalmart] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @05:52PM (#50259459) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people are complaining that they do not like the idea of sharing vehicles.

    What about thinking about it this way - suddenly proximity of your parking spot to where you are is a lot less important. Your personal autonomous vehicle drops you off at your destination and then goes to find a parking spot. Then, when your waiter brings you the check (for example), you let your vehicle know to come pick you up in ten minutes. The vehicle checks current traffic levels and leaves for a just-in-time pickup.

    Before you go to bed you let your autonomous vehicle know what time you want to get to work. Your vehicle looks at the average commute time for that time of day and lets you know when it will pick you up. It leaves its parking spot with enough time to get you.

    The drawback to this that you are spending money to pay for gas or electricity while your vehicle drives (empty) to a parking spot. I would say this is the price you pay for wanting your own vehicle. The alternative is a taxi-style service.

    For everyone complaining that other people will make the car unusable, you might not have taken a cab recently. More often than not it seems like you are video recorded. In addition, the cab company (which I assume would be the same ones putting autonomous cabs on the street) would have a vested interest in keeping vehicles clean.

    I used ZipCar for several years and reporting damage or a messy car was easy for the company to follow up on. The previous user had to have reserved the vehicle and paid for its use. The company has credit card on file already, it is easy enough to go after the user for damages.

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      What about thinking about it this way - suddenly proximity of your parking spot to where you are is a lot less important. Your personal autonomous vehicle drops you off at your destination and then goes to find a parking spot. Then, when your waiter brings you the check (for example), you let your vehicle know to come pick you up in ten minutes. The vehicle checks current traffic levels and leaves for a just-in-time pickup.

      And then it turns out that the waiter is an idiot, and takes 20 minutes to get your credit card back to you, while your car is idling by the front door, with a ticket on the windshield.

      Not that I necessarily disagree with the basic idea, but the reality is that you'll tell your car to come pick you up as you walk to the door, and stand out front and wait until it gets there. There are convenience trade-offs no matter what you do.

  • Changing cities (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They could change city life forever.

    Yeah, that's what was said at the time the Segway was introduced. That was 14 years ago. Nothings changed because of Segways, AFAICT.

  • by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:18PM (#50259605)

    Require more affordable parking in downtown areas.

    Seriously, I live in Austin and work downtown. Most days I bike to work. The days I do drive, I spend 20 minutes circling looking for a spot that won't cost me $15. Street parking is $1/hr. Lots are typically $10-12. Garages (the most convenient) are always $15-20. They're also never full.

    Cities should require all buildings have enough parking and set the rates to "reasonable" rather than "extortionate".

    -Chris

    • Require more affordable parking in downtown areas.

      building out parking lots for peak demand is bad business, bad real estate usage, bad tax planning, just bad all around

      your situation is actually ideal, you should be punished for driving into downtown

    • Bad choice.

      Why should cities subsidize parking?

      Parking is an inefficient subsidized usage of valuable real estate.

      It might make some sense in suburbs, but it tends to be a subsidized inefficient use of land in urban centers.

      Try using transit or biking.

  • These "autonomous car" flacks are really relentless. These stories always show up from an "anonymous reader" always in US prime time, always during the week (never on weekends) and always telling us how "autonomous cars" are going herald in the New Utopia.

    There's not even an attempt to include any news in the story, just pure PR.

    Even half-drunk and not paying attention I can see the pattern. Look for yourselves.

  • Never park? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @06:30PM (#50259659)

    "The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride."

    They will only give another person a ride during peak hours, say morning rush hours and evening hours. Mid-day traffic will be lighter, and middle of the night traffic will be downright dead. At those time these Johny Cabs still have to go somewhere. The Schisters trying make a buck will want them programmed to waste the least gas possible. So unlike human cabs that often troll around looking for a fare, these Johny Cabs are likely to park immediately at the closest free spot and wait for someone to call for a ride with their smart phone.

    Without enough regulation, these cabs may make parking matters worse, as they won't necessarily go back to home base every night if a few pennies can be saved on gas by parking near where they will be needed in the morning.

    • That's easy to fix, charge demand-based overnight parking fees, adjust the fees to distribute the cars as needed.

  • Now the thing is personal automated vehicles, even one per two people would still be a lot of wasted space, if the vehicles were a tiny 3m long the population density over 100m would be only 66 people assuming bumper to bumper. How about if it carried 30 -50 people in a vehicle 15m long, the population density over 100m would be between 200 - 330 people also assuming bumper to bumper. It would cause less congestion.

    Of course that would mean that the vehicles would not go exactly to everyone's destination,

    • How about if it carried 30 -50 people in a vehicle 15m long, the population density over 100m would be between 200 - 330 people also assuming bumper to bumper. It would cause less congestion.

      Yeah here on planet earth we call these things "the commuter rail", hundreds and hundreds of them take passengers into the train station every day, avoiding traffic and alleviating congestion.

      I can't believe its taken this long to come up with such an idea.

      Then you are gonna have a really hard time with the reality that these devices are already moving at well over 100 mph, in New Jersey, of all places.

  • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @08:30PM (#50260173)

    Decades of television brainwashing have convinced people to needlessly blow their paychecks on oversized overpowered motor vehicles. The military industrial complex continues to justify its existence by generating ever larger profits. The brainwashed masses plaster their vehicles with "patriotic" symbols, with the massive irony that their fuel purchases are destabilizing world politics and giving aid and comfort to those who wish us harm. The irony is lost, because the urge to own the biggest and most wasteful vehicle on the block is strong, the brainwashing is effective.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2015 @08:41PM (#50260205)

    The good news is that autonomous cars don't need to park-- they just go give someone else a ride. They could change city life forever.

    Of all people who commute to work in New York City, 41% use the subway, 24% drive alone, 12% take the bus, 10% walk to work, 2% travel by commuter rail, 5% carpool, 1% use a taxi, 0.6% ride their bicycle to work, and 0.2% travel by ferry.

    There are 13,237 taxis operating in New York City, not including over 40,000 other for-hire vehicles.

    Transportation in New York City [wikipedia.org]

    If you need over 50,000 vehicles on the road daily to meet existing for-hire demands, how many robo-cabs would you need to provide 25% of the city's commuter services?

    The commuter car is by definition mostly idle between 9 in the morning and five in the afternoon and between six in the evening and seven in the morning.

    Parked.

  • by dell623 ( 2021586 ) on Thursday August 06, 2015 @08:45AM (#50262389)

    Seriously? I don't get the hype over self driving cars, but this is nuts. Maybe just the article rather than the study, if there is one. We have practically or completely driverless transport. It's called public transport, and it costs a hell of a lot less than it would to deploy and accommodate useless driverless cars. It's a solved problem, many times over. Rail, underground rail, trams, light rail, busways (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O-Bahn_Busway), driverless trains (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_automated_urban_metro_subway_systems) etc. The answer to fixing a problem involving hundreds of cars driving to the same place is not to take the driver out of the picture, it is to take the bloody cars out of the picture.

    Decent home shipping to save you from carrying your shopping home. That's the main reason people have for driving to malls. Get rid of it. It's a terrible reason, and lugging shopping home is no fun, even with a car.

    Most of the world is so far behind in what's possible with public transport, that's where research should focus on. Driverless cars matter about as much as rich tycoons taking joyrides into space.

    • Public transportation is useful, sure .... but you're WAY exaggerating its abilities.

      For starters, you're at the mercy of the system. You've got to schedule everything around the times it stops where you need to be picked up, and it's likely it has no way to drop you off at your destination at the optimal time for your own needs. Then, you lose a measure of control over your environment while you're riding. Want to play your favorite song at full volume while you're out and about? Hope you brought a pair of

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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