Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation AI Businesses Government Power

Tesla's Sales Increase - But Next Will We Need Smart Roads? (backchannel.com) 168

Elon Musk says Tesla's autopilot has now driven over 222 million miles, and the company is now selling twice as many electric cars as it did in 2015. (Despite complaints from a coal-mining CEO that Tesla "is a fraud" because it receives tax-payer subsidies.)

But Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes, "It's not enough to build self-driving cars: we have to build the roads to accompany them. Roadside sensors might have once seemed a pipe dream, but with the advent of 5G internet infrastructure, they're not out of reach at all. And their implications span far beyond road safety, GMU researcher Brent Skorup explains at Backchannel: Cities could use sensor data for conducting traffic studies, pushing out real-time public bus alerts, increasing parking space occupancy, metering commercial loading times to prevent congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety. There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tesla's Sales Increase - But Next Will We Need Smart Roads?

Comments Filter:
  • How about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:42PM (#53049477) Homepage

    There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors.

    How about you fuck off and die. Not everything needs to be used to deliver more ads to me.

    • Not everything needs to be used to deliver more ads to me.

      Oh, we have an app for that!

      • How about RFID chips? Attached to speed limit signs, stop signs, mile-markers, road-number signs, street-name signs, reflectors embedded in road surfaces, etc., etc., etc., the passing cars could ping the chips and acquire relevant information, especially info relevant to where the car is located in terms of the RFID chips. We already know those chips are cheap enough to put in all those places at minimal cost, and considering new cars are already installing radar to detect possible collisions, an appropr
    • But with all that free time and no worry about distracted driving you'll appreciate being able to look at the smart billboards switch to Viagra ads every time you drive by.
      • Hey, I was okay with viagra ads before targeted ads became a thing. If I see Viagra ads now that I'm tracked, I have to start worrying...
    • No shit, what a way to sell people AGAINST this technology...

      • Please note that the claim that SDCs need "roadside sensors" is coming from some random journalist. Elon Musk isn't saying they are necessary, nor is Google nor anyone else actually building SDCs.

        SDCs benefit from clear lane markings, just like HDCs do, but do not need any special technology embedded in the environment.

        • by zlives ( 2009072 )

          well then how do you propose to subsidize verizon, att's roll out of proposed 5g that they will charge customers and prohibit local municipalities from providing for free/fee.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          I'm curious to see how they'll handle winter though... if they can drive a road like this [psxextreme.com] or if they'll need constant road markers like this [www.jula.no], though either way I expect it'll be simple reflectors not any active technology. In the winter we tend to drive roads where it just isn't very obvious where the road even is.

          • It doesn't matter, nobody important lives where it snows.

            If it isn't SV/San Francisco, it may as well not exist.

          • I'm curious to see how they'll handle winter though...

            Tesla Autopilot has driven millions of miles on snowy/icy roads. Tesla recommends that drivers engage Autopilot during snow storms because the software can handle the snow better than humans.

            In the winter we tend to drive roads where it just isn't very obvious where the road even is.

            This is a bigger problem for humans than for SDCs. The SDC can use GPS data, data on previous traversal of the road by itself and by other SDCs, and "landmarks" such as signs and mileage markers.

    • Thank you for saying what needed to be said. "Bob the Super Hamste" (sic) for U.S. President! I don't even care if you're not 'Murican. [the-rock-clapping.gif]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Moroccan ? Why do people keep saying this and why can't they spell it properly?

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:48PM (#53049519)

    How are we going to afford smart roads when we can't even consistently fix the potholes we've already got?

    • You miss the point. Smart Roads are not about traveling on them, but about collecting data. :) But the better roads will get more data to sell, so...
    • congratulations (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:58PM (#53049647)

      How are we going to afford smart roads when we can't even consistently fix the potholes we've already got?

      the rich people in your community have successfully brainwashed you. they have plenty of money, more than enough to fix the potholes and educate our kids. they have manipulated the mechanisms of society so that you think that it's your fault.

      • While healthy funding is a part of building a good school system, parent involvement is likely a bigger problem. Which is why poverty is self perpetuating. Children in homes where their parents struggle to provide for the family simply aren't as likely to get the help and followup with school work as their peers. The parents in such situations frequently have more than one job and so are present less, and given that they likely grew up in the same situation are probably less capable of helping their childre

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      I don't understand the premise. Does the US not have roadside sensors already? For ages we've had roadside sensors here in Iceland:

      Traffic counts and conditions [www.road.is] (picked the northeast as an example)
      Live webcams [vegagerdin.is]

      Is there nothing like that in the US?

      For a sense of comparison, Iceland has a total population similar to that of Anaheim, California.

      • by jacks0n ( 112153 )

        there's 4.12 million miles of road in the US. The ring road around Iceland is like 850 miles.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          1) You have a far higher population density (about 100x the land but about 1000x the population). That makes things easier. You're not located on an unstable volcanic rock with extreme weather conditions in the middle of the North Atlantic with little domestic production. Again, that makes it easier for you.

          2) For more specifics, believe it or not, the Ring Road is not the only road in Iceland. There's 24-32 thousand kilometers of roads in Iceland (the exact number depends on how bad of roads you conside

          • Nearly sixty thousand [usatoday.com] bridges in the United States are structurally deficient. What does that mean?

            Deficient bridges aren’t necessarily falling down, but are in need of repair. Bridges are rated on a scale of zero to nine, with a top score meaning excellent condition. Scores of four or below are classified structurally deficient.

            and:

            The current pace of investment would take 21 years to replace or upgrade all the deficient bridges.

            If we can't (or don't want to contribute the resources to) repair or r

          • > You have a far higher population density (about 100x the land but about 1000x the population). That makes things easier.

            Your assuming things scale lineally up with size and down with population. I don't think that is even close to true. Getting a way for me to checkout my entire route in the US might involve anyone of millions of sensors, so it seams like the difficulty would increase probably exponentially with the number of people, and the number of sensors.

            > 3) So are you saying that t

            • by Rei ( 128717 )

              Your assuming things scale lineally up with size and down with population

              Indeed, except that economies of scale mean that things should be even easier for you than a simple linear scaling would suggest.

              Their are in most major cities, for the major highways.

              That's pretty weak. I mean, check out the link I gave, some of the roads you'll see haven't even had a single vehicle on them in 24 hours.

              • You can see a example of that with the 405 in LA http://www.405la.com./ [www.405la.com] That highway alone handles 400,000 cars per day. If you zoom in you will see a few thousand roads not monitored. Obviously no way can you monitor all of those streets and provide something useful visually. Then you have the opposite end, where you have 10% of the roads in the US don't have any network close to them, no cellular, no WiFi, only a sat phone would get you data. So your not going to get a nationwide database of all the

                • by Rei ( 128717 )

                  And again, why don't you have that infrastructure? We have a tenth your population density and we still do it. We have sensors transmitting data out in the middle of freaking Vatnajökull (largest glacier in Europe), and all across the highlands (arguably the largest wilderness in Europe, depending on how unspoiled one requires an area to be to count as "wilderness"). What makes it so hard for you? You produce the hardware, for crying out loud. You have land access to all but one of your states (and

      • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @03:18PM (#53049797)

        When it comes to technology; in the lab the US is worldwide leaders. On the street and in the home, the US is about 5 years behind the rest of the developed world.

        I can usually count on technology my relatives in Europe getting arriving in the US 5 to 10 years later.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arth1 ( 260657 )

          When it comes to technology; in the lab the US is worldwide leaders. On the street and in the home, the US is about 5 years behind the rest of the developed world.

          Make that 5-20 years. People here in the US still use cheques, for cripes sake. And as little as two years ago, I saw country music cassette tapes for sale at a rest stop store.
          And where I live, my internet choice is ADSL maxed out at 1500 kbps, or 56k dial-up.

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            A bit of an aside, but I heard country music for the first time in about four years last weekend. And the reason for that was because I was in the US last weekend ;)

          • And as little as two years ago, I saw country music cassette tapes for sale at a rest stop store.

            In the boonies dealing with keeping crap charged is just another thing to think about, and/or a bunch of cables. CDs skip while off-roading. So there's still a lot of people using tapes out there. Probably most of them listen to country, which I suspect is very very highly correlated with wheeling.

          • And where I live, my internet choice is ADSL maxed out at 1500 kbps, or 56k dial-up.

            It's 2016. I'm sure there's a charity collection donations to help your asylum case by this point.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Adoption of the metric system seems to be a classic example of the lack of the American public's ability to intellectually adapt, yet, https://www.nist.gov/pml/weigh... [nist.gov]. Of course Americans refuse to admit the problem was caused by lead poisoning, fuel, water pipes and firearms, as a result, simply to dumb to adapt and perversely enough taking pride in that ignorance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com], oh my, the ignorance on public display and accepted and cheered on.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          The banking system difference really gets me. Banks here don't even accept checks any more, they're considered antiquated technology. All banking systems are unified. Medical records systems are unified. Government records systems are unified. You know how I fill out my taxes? I go to a web page, log in, click "confirm" on several pages (because the information is almost invariably correct, as it's automatically collected), and click to submit. It takes about two minutes.

          I agree, lots of major techno

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            So if I want to give you money for some reason and don't have the cash on hand, there's no way to do it? And that's an advance?

            • You are suggesting that having to use a bit of paper makes a bank transfer more advanced?

        • yeah, since the GOP took over CONgress and our gov, they have slowed things way up. A big part of that is the speed of getting technology out.
      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        Unless it is a red light camera or a speed trap, which generates revenue for some entity, there is no incentive to life a finger to do road sensors. Sadly, that is how the US works.

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          That's another thing. How absurd is it that fines for local violations like speeding and traffic cameras in the US go to those entities enforcing them? Could you design a worse conflict of interest if you tried? How can anyone think that such a system is appropriate?

      • I don't understand the premise. Does the US not have roadside sensors already?

        There are some. Proponents of so-called 'smart roads' are promoting roads with many, many more; essentially, making them ubiquitous. For such a system to be meaningful you need sensors in most of the key locations on the grid; for example, a high percentage of intersections need to be monitored in all directions, essentially all highway entrances and exits as well, all intentional road closures must be logged, etc. Even if you can't take its word for conditions, it would be useful because it would help shap

    • Well, advertisers will pay to fix these roads...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ah yes, the most commonly used phrase in Silicon Valley "We'll pay for it with advertising."

        One does have to wonder what's going to happen when all the advertisers realize that no one is actually buying anything.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          One does have to wonder what's going to happen when all the advertisers realize that no one is actually buying anything.

          Ah, that explains why all of the business that bought into the whole advertising fad have gone under.

          • The claim isn't that advertisement doesn't work at all, it's that as the amount of advertisements goes up, the efficacy of advertisements go down. Presumably there will be a point where there will be advertisements on every possible surface that people ignore completely.

            It's kind of an arms race. Marketing companies say "Oh no, our advertisements aren't as effective as they used to be. Better add more."

    • tell Texas to raise their taxes.
  • Uh, what? What magic ground breaking technology is specifically in 5G that enables it versus 4G (or even 4G)?

    Guess what, NOTHING. It's just, you know, if you want to instrument a huge chunk of a road, then you pretty much need to be the government. A single sensor attached to a billboard does nothing (and no one would opt int). You basically need to instrument a huge chunk of it, and the owner of that land is the government.
    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      My guess is this. The INITIAL 4G spec mandated IPv6 connectivity. However, carriers went ahead and started "marketing" their products and services as "4G" without this (and other parts of the spec) before the spec was finalized. Most likely, 5G will have an instated mandate for IPv6, which helps with individually addressing each of these internet connected devices. One of the proposals for these sensors were to place them within the lane line bumps on the road, but no idea what they intended to do to power

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      There's a few things in 5G that make it more friendly towards massive numbers of small, low-bandwidth devices.

      1. Unlicensed spectrum usage. So anyone can make a device that does short-range communication amongst sensors or with a hub.
      2. Low-bandwidth, single-mode LTE. Arguably already existent in 4G but no real unified standard so far.

      It's possible to do sea-of-sensors type devices today with chips from various vendors, but they're all geared towards closed and proprietary networks of machines deployed all

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:49PM (#53049539)

    Those "smart roads" don't sound expensive at all!

    More seriously - the bits which don't involve monetizing me can pretty much already be accomplished through existing crowd-sourced data collection techniques. Heck, most of the bits that *do* involve monetizing me can also pretty much already be accomplished via those same techniques. But then, somebody wouldn't stand to make millions from the patent portfolio they've built based on their publicly-funded research.

  • by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:51PM (#53049573) Homepage

    Smart roads are neither necessary nor sufficient to realize driverless cars. They are unnecessary, because imaging technology is increasing at a nice clip, obviating their need. All of the applications addressed in the article could be realized with smart cars communicating with each other, rather than smart roadside sensors communicating from the street.

    Further, road sensors won't be sufficient, because even assuming the cost of these smart sensors becomes relatively inexpensive, there are simply too many less traveled roads to install them on. There are many millions of miles of unpaved dirt roads, newly constructed roads, and roads that are damaged by nature. Cars will need to drive effectively without roadside sensors.

    The one application I can see of roadside sensors is possibly to increase accuracy on major highways, thus increasing the max speed of the driverless cars on the road.

    • For 99% the of driving I do they will help. And any additional data my self-driving car can get to increase the likelihood that I make it to my destination alive I find useful. Especially once these self-driving cars become self-flying.
    • Do smart cars need lines on the road they can actually see or are the faded-to-nothingness lane and directional dividing lines sufficient?

      • Do smart cars need lines on the road they can actually see or are the faded-to-nothingness lane and directional dividing lines sufficient?

        Absolutely, faded lines should be sufficient! Nobody would get into a car if they knew they would die if the lane dividers were faded.

        That said, it's reasonable to assume that having brightly lit lines will allow cars to move faster on closer. Similarly, with smart roads: I can see them being used to increase efficiency, but they should not have to be necessary.

      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        Come to think about it, there is a lot that could be tossed with exclusively self-driving cars on the roads, be it lines (cars can be put in where they fit, width wise), guard rails, or even flyovers, as cars can be timed to speed up/slow down to pass at highway speeds through a four way intersection. Signage can be tossed as well.

    • You don't even need imaging technology. These things [diamondtraffic.com] have been around for ages and work well enough and it looks like there are more advanced counters that also don't do anything particularly special with image processing.

      A better for making lane following better may be to put a thick steel cable down the middle of each land just under the surface of the concrete or asphalt. Then just let the car figure out where the cable is. It isn't like they don't already put rebar in the road so why not thick cable d
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        A better for making lane following better may be to put a thick steel cable down the middle of each land just under the surface of the concrete or asphalt. Then just let the car figure out where the cable is. It isn't like they don't already put rebar in the road so why not thick cable down the middle that would function like a piece of rebar as well.

        That may work in the south, but consider frost heaves.

        • Up here in Minnesota we have a lot of concrete roads and frost heaving isn't a problem. The only roads that I have seen that have problems with frost heaving are ones that are fairly thin and on those you wouldn't be able to embed cable into the surface anyway. So why not embed the cable into the middle of the concrete.
      • It isn't like they don't already put rebar in the road

        They don't already put rebar in most roads. Most roads are made of layers of sand and gravel capped off with tar-based asphalt. Solar roads and such nonsense aside, normally only bridges and concrete roads feature rebar.

        Human drivers depend on quality lane markings to make quick intelligent decisions, so let's just focus on maintaining the lane markings which can also be used by self-driving cars.

        • "Human drivers depend on quality lane markings to make quick intelligent decisions"

          Lane markings are being removed on many roads in Europe, as getting rid of them reduces traffic speed and improves safety..

          • Lane markings are being removed on many roads in Europe, as getting rid of them reduces traffic speed and improves safety..

            That might be true on the least-paved roads, what some people call "D" roads and what some of us call rural roads. It seems to work OK in Panama. But that shit won't fly where you've got freeway speeds happening. And it won't work in city centers, where drivers depend very heavily on markings.

    • > All of the applications addressed in the article could be realized with smart cars communicating with each other

      Agreed. I'm surprised P2P Cars has taken so long. It is a no-brainer.

      i.e.
      A car is doing 5 mph on a major road. It automatically alerts the car behind it, which alerts the car behind it, etc so that 15 mins before hand traffic starts slowing down so as to nullify the standing wave(s).

  • Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @02:54PM (#53049601) Journal
    "There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors."

    First of all, the last thing we need is more effective advertising. Second we don't need any new information gathering devices created and installed in our current political climate. If installed today these sensors wouldn't just track anonymous data, they would also track WHO did the walking and what car drove by. Today they'd build those capabilities in and probably lie about it. Even without building that capability into the system you could find the paths of sensors and correlate with GPS data to determine not only where my car went but whether or not I drove it.

    It's only a matter of time before they say my car (which I say is lost and they fished out of the river) going to my office, combined with my gps signal and phone (which I conveniently say I lost) along with those of my wife is proof I killed her. There is a small chance any one of those could be a coincidence but the probability of all of the above being a coincidence exceeds any reasonable doubt! Little did I know I forgot my phone that day, my wife noticed and was bringing it to me when stopped at a gas station and was murdered by a mugger who disposed of the body and car in the river.

    The only improbable thing there is actually my wife getting mugged and killed, the rest is actually a pretty normal occurance. No thank you. This is why the last thing you should ever want is the police to have more data.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It sounds like the background setting for a Neil Stephenson book. Tomorrow's Highwaymen. They won't even have to get up out of their chair to help lighten your heavy cash load.

      First of all, the last thing we need is more effective advertising. Second we don't need any new information gathering devices created and installed in our current political climate.

      Who is we?

      The people without the money or the influence? No, those people are consumers. They all got sold nerfed pitchforks years ago but don't know it

    • First of all, the last thing we need is more effective advertising.

      If anything, people in driveless cars aren't going to be seeing any of those advert billboards anyway... they'll be busy reading or using their smartphone.

  • My subject is perhaps a bit strong; there's nothing inherently wrong with smart roads. The problem is with the idea that you need them. If you need smart roads for your autonomous vehicles to function, then you haven't solved the autonomous driving problem for two critical reasons. One, what if the smart roads fail? Two, what if the smart roads are hacked? It is absolutely critical that vehicles use smart road (or indeed, V2V) data for informational purposes only. They will always have to trust their sensors above anything else they are being told for these two reasons.

    Automakers will collect information from autonomous driving systems, process it, and then send it back to vehicles. At least some of them are even going to share this data with one another so they won't have to generate all of it themselves. But the vehicles will still have to make the ultimate call, because if we here at Slashdot should know anything it's that you can't trust your input. On the vehicle itself you can solve this problem by cross-checking multiple sensors. The result is always going to have to be more trusted than what the network is claiming.

  • Can != should (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phayes ( 202222 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @03:01PM (#53049667) Homepage

    That we can do something does not mean that we automatically should do it & it looks to me like this is a solution in search of a problem that would propose financing to install it.

    GPS/4G linked databases of road limits and mapping software already performs localization to follow traffic congestion and speeds.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @03:03PM (#53049679) Journal

    You mean to tell me that you're going to have millions of vehicles with umpteen sensors, and millions more with passengers that are cataloging every speed fluctuation and bump in the road - all of which can be used for road maintenance and optimization, but we're going to ignore all of that data so we can put into place and maintain a complete second system? All of the civic uses can pretty much be gathered using anonymized cell phone and car data. Fuck the commercial stuff.

  • I read five lines before giving up.

    Written by someone who's never dealt with the requirements of NCTIP, dealing with the law enforcement requirements, USDOT and all 50 other State DOT, plus local regulations and municipal requirements.

    In other words? We'll have warp drive first.

  • Rural areas cant handle self driving cars. Rural counties cant afford paved roads, they cant afford to plow or grade dirt and gravel roads. Everyone keeps talking about self driving cars, but that doesnt work I cant see self driving cars for a long time, the practical, the cost, legal areas, and when people drive trucks for decades, its going to be awhile. In the cities, sure, why not. Outside the city, we dont even have Internet except dialup in many places.

    • Even the Uber and other tests are only done in "safe" areas of cities without many collisions per VMT or active construction impacts.

      Autonomous cars are kind of like allowing semi-trailers to drive on residential non-arterial roads. Sounds good in theory, but results in a lot of dead kids and pets and accidents that take out entire houses.

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Monday October 10, 2016 @03:42PM (#53050017)
    Are we developing autonomous cars or not? If a car needs a smart road or even a network connection it is not autonomous. I can tell you there is no way in hell my city would ever be able to afford smart roads. They can't even keep the lines painted!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone's busy with phones and backseat video players

  • We cant get "SAFE" or well maintained roads.... trying to get smart roads in place is an impossibility unless a federal mandate is passed requiring the amount of money spent on roadways is doubled at least.

    Most states cant keep the lines painted on the roads in decent shape, there is zero chance that any smart road tech will be maintained.

  • Roadside sensors are a natural for a mesh network. Each sensor can use something akin to WiFi to talk to the next one in each direction along the road. Data can pass from each sensor to it's neighbor in two directions, providing a measure of fault tolerance and detection.

    However, cars are gradually becoming connected - it might be easier for them just to talk to each other and back to the net using the sensors and radio gear that they already have. That way you don't have to monitor sections of road wh

  • I'm sure road sensors can be helpful, but they can never tell the whole story about the road. If an autonomous car can't detect potholes, flooding, or other unexpected road conditions, then it's not truly autonomous. And I'm not sure what a car with advanced-enough sensors to detect these things would gain from roadside sensors. Yes, it's important to know where the road's location, but knowing the road's condition is at least as important.

  • If robot cars need sensor roads, wouldn't a fair, free market approach say that the people using/buying/selling/building those robot cars should be the ones paying for it?

    If history is any guide, this is just step one in a large scheme to transfer public money (in the form of specialized infrastructure spending) from the public at large, to robot car builders (in the form of increased sales from more useful products made possible by those specialized infrastructure spending)

    We already saw this play out once

  • I will enjoy driving my antique car around (while not being tracked by the government) while all the fools in the autodriving crap are stuck in the traffic jam created by my radar/lidar chaff air cannon that I've installed on the back of the car. Aggressive driving will get me there even twice as fast once super polite to a fault cars yield to every one of my dick moves with no retaliation ever!

  • Why don't drivers pay for public charging stations?

    The owner of the power line has to pay for those kilowatts with someone's money. How is this sustainable? Who is paying for it?

  • Smart cars would drive on stupid roads.

    Otherwise you'd call them slot cars.

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a multipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer, as amended by Jeff Daiell, a Libertarian

Working...