Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post by Matt was originally published in June 2015.

An interesting article on Citylab highlights something I’ve been saying for a while when it comes to the hype around driverless cars – what about the pedestrians? It’s based of the video (below) from MIT’s Senseable City Lab showing how an urban intersection might work in a world of driverless cars.

Imagine a city without traffic lights, where lanes of cars merge harmoniously from one to the next, allowing traffic to flow smoothly across intersections. This futuristic vision is becoming reality. The development of autonomous driving promises to revolutionise the landscape of urban mobility.

As Citylab note:

The first thing to notice is how truly terrifying it would be—at least initially—to ride in a driverless car going that fast through an intersection. Seriously: pause the video at 44 seconds and see how narrowly the car turning left avoids being slammed by another going straight. When you ride in a self-driving car, you quickly learn to trust it; in fact, Google has said its early test riders trusted the car too much on highways. But having faith in a computerized intersection overlord to orchestrate so much city traffic at such great speeds will require a steep period of public adjustment.

The second thing to note is far more important: Where are all the pedestrians and bike riders? (Hat tip to Columbia University planning professor David King for bringing this to our attention.) Keep in mind this wasn’t some remote crossing being modeled; it was the intersection of Massachusetts and Columbus avenues in Boston.

There’s an obvious reason why an “intelligent intersection” would want to eliminate people crossing on foot or by bike: they’d slow things down. But it would be a huge mistake for cities to undo all the progress being made on human-scale street design just to accommodate a perfect algorithm of car movement. If the result is that driverless cars need to move through cities at sub-optimal speeds, then so be it. We won’t be losing as much productivity to traffic as we do today, anyway.

So yes driverless cars might improve vehicle throughput a bit over what we have now but almost certainly not as much as the claims made by many about the technology unless we take the retrograde step of marginalising pedestrians (and cyclists).

I must say I hadn’t thought about the issue of how it would feel being in a driverless car and going through an intersection and seeing another car approach at speed from a different direction. That would definitely take some time to get used to and would be very scary if you were on a bike.

All up it just adds to my view that while driverless vehicles are coming, they won’t be here as soon or have as big an impact as some people claim. In the mean time we will likely continue to see aspects of autonomy increasing such as technology that helps improve safety or assist with parking.

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63 comments

  1. Valid point but perhaps not how autonomous vehicle companies are forecasting their usage. Streamlined intersections seem like a fantasy at the moment and regular intersections can be expected for a long time.

    Alot see themselves becoming the “final mile” solution similar to how lime scooters operate but safer and wider reach. Milton Keyes have a fascinating last mile solution study underway at the moment.

    1. Unless these vehicles have a source of renewable energy to power them they may not even be built. Even in one of the homes of the automobile the tide is turning
      https://www.dw.com/en/thousands-of-climate-protesters-target-frankfurt-auto-show/a-50435008
      NZ currently doesn’t have enough renewable power to power them with at least 15% of our power coming from coal and natural gas. It’s important to note that it is at least 15%, because Huntly runs to make up any shortfall in power demands. So if the North Island has a dry year, as happened last year, Huntly runs more. If we have more demand for electricity it runs more. So any type of ev that runs on fossil fuel is unlikely to be viewed favourably by many.
      This just seems like an expensive gamble by some automobile manufacturers to stay relevant. You don’t sell many cars if people are walking, riding bikes, buses or light rail.

      1. John , they way it should be is if buy a Battery power car then you MUDT install solar panels on your property to help the grid with the increased power usage . . So those that will moan about the extra cost it will minor considering the cost of the vehicle

        1. Johnwoodtakapuna.nz , they way it should be is if you buy a Battery power car then you ‘MUST’ install solar panels on your property to help the grid with the increased power usage . . So those that will moan about the extra cost it will be minor considering the purchase price of the vehicle

        2. David L
          Or the power companies could simply build more generating capacity with the money that they are awash with. A recent report suggested that they made excess profits of $5.4 billion dollars.
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/107083208/power-generators-made-54b-in-excess-profits

          At a time when they all knew that NZ has to decarbonise the grid was it responsible to simply return most of this money to shareholders (leaving aside whether they should have charged this amount in the first place.)

          New wind and solar installations should produce power cheaply – at least that is the overseas experience.

        3. “New wind and solar installations should produce power cheaply”

          On a still, clear winter evening at 5.30 pm, the time when electricity demand is at its highest in NZ, wind and PV-generated power is very, very expensive.

          Avocados are cheap. In the summer. When the avocado trees are laden with them. In the winter they are very expensive.

          In both cases nature calls the shots, independent of human demand. In formulating technical solutions it is really important to understand the problem that one is trying to solve and when balancing electrical supply and demand on the grid it is very important to understand the difference between energy and power.

        4. Yes, John. Cheap when you don’t need it but note the statement from the site that you link to: “as wind has limited ability to provide generation capacity at peak demand”. Yes, we can provide cheap electricity as long as you don’t want it when you need it the most.

          Supplying electricity in times of peak demand is a really important requirement so proposing wind as a solution suggests that you haven’t understood the problem. Wind can be combined with electrical storage to address its lack of dispatchability, but then it is no longer low cost. I note that you use the conditional tense (“SHOULD provide power cheaply”) so what are the conditions implicit in your statement?

          The power available from wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed; if the wind speed decreases by 50% then the available power to be extracted by a wind turbine decreases by 87.5%. That serves to illustrate why “wind has limited ability to provide generation capacity at peak demand”. When you need it most there is a high likelihood that it will go AWOL.

          I note, also, that you claim that any additional electrical load on the grid imposed by EVs will come from burning fossil fuels.
          Does that also apply to additional load on the grid from new housing?..or does the grid somehow know that they are different loads?
          EVs are and will be mainly charged overnight. The battery inherent in an EV and the widespread adoption of smart meters means that their demand can be tailored to times of greatest electrical surplus and to the variations in supply from, for example, wind turbines. In that respect they are much easier and less expensive to cater for with renewable electricity than the loads imposed by additional housing (which will exacerbate the current peak demand periods).

        5. There are multiple engineering solutions to the challenges of matching variable electrical generation to variable electrical demand, Brendon. The question to be addressed is “at what cost?”…and the paper you referenced fails in that respect.

          Our energy minister has suggested that overbuilding renewable generation, making hydrogen in times of electrical surplus and exporting the hydrogen is a wonderful solution…but no consideration of cost. Given the round trip efficiency of ca. 20% and the capital required it’s going to be very high.

          If only money were no object…

      2. Depends how these vehicles are used but I agree that private electric autonmous vehicles won’t help the environment. A Uber style fleet of small lightweight electric autonomous vehicles may lift the efficency of a transport system by increasing patronage and streching station catchments.

        End mile solution would provide the linking service between transport hubs and peoples homes/offices. Small electric autonmous vehicles capable of 15 minute trips have been found to be more efficient than buses (buses win over longer distances) in terms of environmental emissions per person. The main reasons are higher expected patronage for a door to door service, buses rarely run at capacity and smaller lighter cars are more efficient (imagine a 2 seater electric car capable of max speed of 40km/h).

        TFL indicated that these types of solutions have real promise and have already begun testing ideas.

        One sceanrio was with vehicles banned from London city centre (except for delivery vehicles outside peak traffic times). It modelled a ‘uber style service’ where a small lightweight 2 seater electric vehicle provided public transport versus a traditional electric bus network and found the emissions output of the electric vehicles was a fraction of a bus service.

        Imagine constructing the hibiscus coast bus station without the car parks and tendering the right to provide the final door solution (small electric autonomous vehicles).

        The benefit would be
        -increased catchment
        -offset costs of not having to build a park and ride
        -viable solution where people do not need a personal car
        -increased convienence/ease of use because of the door to door solution

        NZ is not bold enough to take on a strategy like this but this is the innovation we need to tackle climate change. We don’t need to get rid of the small car, we need to change how people use it!

      3. 15% of our renewable energy goes to an aluminium smelter that makes a loss and is for some strange reason propped up by government subsidies.

        1. Jimbo when the Smelter was 1st built they were supposed to have constructed their own power station which never happened so they got the NZED to do it for them . So it goes to show that it has been running at a loss since the day it opened , so they say . But all big multinationals say that so however’s in power will prop them up to stay here . If it wasn’t making money they wouldn’t have constructed the smelter in the beginning .

          And the biggest con since then has been telling everyone “we will shut it down” and however’s in power believes them as they don’t wont unemployment and a large facility sittng idle and collapsing in the area as most of these large companies never remove anything after they leave

  2. Driverless cars have been entirely technologically realistic for at least 5 years now. What’s prevented their introducing is:
    1) Any motivation for any government body to change their regulations/laws to allow them.
    2) Much motivation for anyone to buy one.
    3) Any motivation for anyone to invest in any needed infrastructure.

    But I believe that at some stage: Some party will push for them. I’m expecting it to be driven by private enterprise, where it will be worthwhile for some party to introduce a taxi/uber style service based upon driverless vehicles. Once they become affordable: More people will buy them as their own personal transport. And gradually; people will warm to them and most people will use them as a shared shuttle (as I said; like a taxi).
    I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it begins with buses, as any extra cost would be justified by the savings in not paying drivers. And then the same technology will be employed by Taxis, limousines, etc. and for the same reason.

    Disruptive technologies like this often take some time to become common. It’s like how Karl Benz invented a practical automobile driven by an internal combustion engine itself in 1885 yet automobiles didn’t start becoming commonplace until the 1920s and it wasn’t until the 1950s that most people owned one.

    Some people believe that driverless cars will cause more automobile dependency. But I disagree, I think they will make little difference and that they will merely result in automobiles being used more efficiently.

    1. All these driverless should only be operated in a confined/secure space like a motorway/expressway which don’t allow either2 or 4 legged creatures to move in that area . Any where else they should only be operated by a human . And most of this technology I don’t trust as it can be hacked by low lifes with nothing better to do .

      1. Your opinion won’t be shared by anyone who makes decisions. And that’s because they will be better informed than you.

        As for the possibility of them being “hacked”; how is that any more to worry about than the reckless or just plain human drivers on the road?

        1. You’re very naive thinking that decision makers make decisions based only on cold hard facts. Many people fear the computer much more than the human, no matter how irrational that is, and decision makers will be taking this into account as well.

          Also it is debatable that they are technologically realistic either. Any technology that struggles with real world scenarios such as:

          Snow
          Rain
          Keeping pedestrians safe while maintaining a flow of traffic
          Managing unexpected lane changes, closures or blockages.

          is not really real world ready.

          I agree the technology is mostly there and could be used to make our roads significantly safer but I haven’t seen any evidence that we are anywhere near implementing full autonomy.

        2. “You’re very naive thinking that decision makers make decisions based only on cold hard facts.”
          Well… …they’re almost always a lot more informed than the average Joe Bloggs.

          “Many people fear the computer much more than the human, no matter how irrational that is, and decision makers will be taking this into account as well.”
          I don’t think that’s true at all. At least anymore.
          Once upon a time; many people didn’t trust the machine as much as the draft animal.

          “Any technology that struggles with real world scenarios such as blah blah”
          And this is “struggle” of any technology is merely your uninformed speculation.

          “I haven’t seen any evidence that we are anywhere near implementing full autonomy.”
          Here I can help you with that:
          https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/301073-mit-taught-self-driving-cars-to-see-around-corners-with-shadows
          https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/03/01/autonomous-vehicles-are-just-around-the-corner
          https://www.rics.org/oceania/wbef/digital-transformation/self-driving-cars-theyre-just-around-the-corner/
          This isn’t something people are pulling out of thin air. It’s like 3d printing or “The internet of things”; the wheels have already been in motion for some time now.

        3. Just to clarify were you trying to provide evidence for or against my argument?

          ‘Admittedly, Uber’s self-driving robotaxi has a human sitting in the driving seat, but only to take over if something unexpected happens.’

          Something unexpected happening is a real world everyday scenario, such as this from the same article.

          ‘The engineer in your correspondent’s robotaxi takes over occasionally, for example to guide the car through roadworks where the lane markings have recently been changed.’

        4. “…but only to take over if something unexpected happens”

          That always baffles me.

          To be able to do that, you have to concentrate on the road at all times, not just so you notice the unexpected thing, but also so you know how to intervene.

          In other words, you are driving that car, just like in the past 50 years. Looking out for other road users, checking your mirrors, everything. The fact that the steering wheel is moving automatically most of the time just makes it more likely you’ll fail.

          Autonomous vehicles have been ‘around the corner’ for, what, a decade now? Maybe they’re smart enough to stay there, safely behind that corner.

          By the way a lot of these ‘tech’ websites are actually well known for pulling anything out of thin air to get a few clicks.

        5. (*Shakes head*) Do yourself a favour and don’t attempt to divert from being demonstrated-to that the control systems on the driverless automobiles are more advanced than you imagined by attempting to cherry-pick points as though they vindicate your opinion.

          Yeah, who’d would’ve thought that while these vehicles are still being developed (and thus under test) that they’d have a backup driver?
          Besides, as has been said all along; many have envisaged private driverless cars to initially be an autopilot for many people where the car drives itself for most of the trips but which the owner can override when needed (such as the mentioned road works).

        6. To Roeland:
          it’s not that driverless vehicles don’t already exist (they do). It’s more whether they’re actually practical for anyone as yet.

          It’s like how aeroplanes and automobiles themselves took some years of development before there was a practical version that companies could profitably produce for a market.

    2. “Driverless cars have been entirely technologically realistic for at least 5 years now. What’s prevented their introducing is:”

      Shall we see what an expert thinks about them, Daniel? This is from an abstract for a talk coming up in Wellington:

      “A tsunami of global media suggests autonomous vehicles and shared new mobility modes using private vehicles are solutions to the congestion, economic and environmental problems of growing cities. But much of this discussion is based on hype; the promotion of new technologies with little proof, feasibility and little basis in fact… Evidence is shown that new mobility solutions using private vehicle travel remain problematic for urban futures.”

      The speaker is:

      “Professor Graham Currie FTSE, is Australia’s first Chair in Public Transport and Director of PTRG which is recognised as one of the top 3 research schools in public transport in the world. Professor Currie is an internationally recognised service planner and researcher, has been involved in planning services throughout New Zealand and is Chair of the US Transport Research Boards committee on Light Rail Transit. He has published more research papers in leading research journals on public transport than any other author in the world. He is developer of the http://www.worldtransitresearch.info research clearinghouse.”

      1. Huh? How is what you’ve quoted from this Prof. Currie even relevant to what I’ve said let alone disagreeing with me?

        He’s rubbishing the spin that they’ll solve many congestion problems. Please quote when I even mentioned that.

        1. “Some people believe that driverless cars will cause more automobile dependency. But I disagree, I think they will make little difference and that they will merely result in automobiles being used more efficiently.”

        2. I said I believe driverless automobiles would result in automobiles being used more efficiently.

          It had nothing to do with the congestion problems that according to Prof. Currie; driverless vehicles ill solve. Congestion wasn’t even on my mind when I typed it.

        3. Pray tell, Daniel, what constitutes the efficient use of a driverless car within the congestion it has contributed to?

        4. I don’t know why you think I should even answer any question given that you brought up congestion out of the blue.
          But the fact is that an automatic control system would be able to control the engine more efficiently, turn corners more optimally (thus less wear & tear and more fuel-efficient), would be able to anticipate congestion on networks and find alternative routes and if used in the taxi/uber style service many envisage; be used throughout the day by more than one person.

          And before you might think of beginning; I am NOT saying that driverless automobiles will reduce congestion.

      1. Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t they? There’s these things that have been around for decades called electronic sensors, which these vehicles’ entire function depends upon. Hardly takes any imagining…

        1. So if a person can cross the road at any time, won’t these cars struggle to get anywhere? Especially in city centres.

        2. Erm… …no. Why on earth would that be the case if it’s not for human-driven cars?
          After-all: Most people cross the road at dedicated crossings.

        3. No, he’s right – autonomous cars are forced to stop and give way – they will be much more safer to walk out in front of in urban situations, much safer than jaywalking in front of a human driver.

        4. Erm… …no. Why on earth would that be the case if it’s not for human-driven cars?
          After-all: Most people cross the road at dedicated crossings.

          Of course they cross at crossings, people are usually less likely to get run over at crossings.

          However, if its it’s 100% safer just to step out in the road with autonomous vehicles, whats the point in a crossing, with timers?

          Could mean people all stepping out into the road individually at any time and continually stopping of traffic. I’m ok with that, but If you thought the rage at trying to lower the speed limit was bad, wait till their journey is stop start all the way up Nelson Street..can’t wait!

          Who would have thought that in the Great War on Cars, the Car would be its own downfall!!

        5. Daniel – drivers are currently required to avoid collisions with pedestrians if possible. If someone steps out 30m in front of you as a driver you are required to stop to avoid hitting them.

        6. Thank you Guy.
          I mean it stands to reason that sensors/transducers, microprocessors or microcontrollers or PLCs and mechatronic actuators built and optimised for one purpose can gather data, process it and react faster, better and more efficiently for that purpose than the human senses, brain and limbs can.

        7. Joe I don’t mean to be rude, but if it seems like a pretty desperate scenario dragged from the bottom of the barrel.
          Most human drivers will stop or avoid people who walk out in front of them too. Do people currently take advantage of that and jaywalk on to the road with this knowledge? I don’t see it much; most people use the designated crossing.

          And if this hypothetical situation ever eventuated: Do you not think that the authorities would find ways to crack-down upon it?

        8. Mmm… I was thinking about this at Westmere today when passing through a ‘pedestrian refuge’ at an ambiguous corner (drivers are split about whether the car turning the corner on the main route needs to indicate or whether the car going straight ahead (by leaving the arterial) needs to indicate, and so pedestrians have no clue which assumption the drivers have made.)

          A lady in an SUV chose to not pause to see what my intention was – to keep walking or not. She presumably summed up my physical ability and (outwardly) normal adult appearance and decided there was every opportunity to use speed and no need to pause ‘just in case’

          She quite possibly would have decided to play it safe if I’d been a child, or an adult obviously high on drugs, or a person with limited mobility.

          And I wondered what fun people could have if it had been a driverless car. Presumably there will be no rational way to decipher in code those millions of ways humans receive information about each other. For safety, they’ll need to be programmed to stop for anybody.

        9. I really can only see how driverless cars will be better at slowing-down, stopping and avoiding anything that moves out on the road than human drivers will.
          And driverless cars will also stop if they couldn’t avoid hitting what got in their way.

        10. Most human drivers will stop or avoid people who walk out in front of them too

          Yeah, if only. They don’t.

          It will be interesting to see what safety standard will be applied to self-driving cars. If it is similar to trains and airplanes, expect them to be much slower than good old human-driven cars. Because those are as fast as they are in cities because nobody gives a damn if a few people left and right get maimed.

        11. There’ll be a transition period of whiplash, to be sure. What’s not so clear is what it’ll transition to…

        12. “If it is similar to trains and airplanes, expect them to be much slower than good old human-driven cars.”
          But automation in both trains and aeroplanes has led to overall faster transits.

    1. You have a lot more faith in automation implementation then I do.
      The latest iteration of by far the best selling aircraft of all time, made by, far the biggest aircraft manufacturer of all time, and regulated by the most experienced regulator of all time, could only make it back to ground safely when unusually there were three pilots in the cockpit when the new automation went feral. In the next two cases of the same failure, the normal two pilot crew could not cope and hundreds died.

      1. That’s more a reflection upon the struggling aircraft manufacturer than automation in itself. Its European competitor produces aircraft with even more automation and everyone sings its praises.

        We live in an age of enormous health and safety regulations which were the result of crippling litigation against the previously more lax regulations and enforcements. Most automobile manufacturers simply can’t risk a lawsuit likely to end them in the current day and age.

        1. Daniel – I agree with you that aircraft automation has in general been extremely successful.

          However, there is one significant difference, aircraft can be flown entirely on instruments. Cars on the other hand will always require visual navigation, which for automation means image analysis, much more complicated than just computing a series of instruments.

          While image analysis has improved dramatically it still has issues at the fringes and real world scenarios happen at the fringes.

        2. “Cars on the other hand will always require visual navigation”
          Not really. There just needs to be some sort of detection & identification of bodies and their motion. For example: detection could be done via a LIDAR.
          After all; Cameras and human eyeballs both merely detect light photons of certain wavelengths.
          “which for automation means image analysis, much more complicated than just computing a series of instruments.”
          For over 25 years: Digitial signal processors have been available on very discrete dedicated microprocessor chips. Sophisticated Image analysis/signal processing is really nothing new.

        3. “Until the grounding Boeing was experiencing unprecedented profitability.”
          Profitability isn’t the entire picture.
          Boeing has been facing stiff competition in Jet airliners from Airbus for a long time now and has been steadily losing market share and that’s what’s important in the long term. In fact; this entire 737 MAX program was in response to the success of the Airbus A320’s.

          And unlike Airbus, Boeing also has a lot of military contracts that will be contributing to any profitability.

  3. The aircraft was certified under the latest health and safety regulation regimes and the current litigation regimes, which have now proved to be by themselves to be inadequate to ensure anywhere near adequate safety.
    The grounding was only because multiple fatalities occurred in two of the three incidents. If those incidents had only resulted in only one or two fatalities, per incident which is comparable to traffic accidents then the aircraft would not have been grounded.

    1. “The aircraft was certified under the latest health and safety regulation regimes and the current litigation regimes, which have now proved to be by themselves to be inadequate to ensure anywhere near adequate safety.”
      Huh? “Litigation regimes”? Do you understand what “litigation” means? And you might want to take more time constructing sentences; “inadequate to ensure anywhere near adequate” is self-explanatory.
      The 737 MAX had had over a year’s worth of successful operations before the three accidents. The actual cause of the accidents is yet to be determined, is obviously freak and is almost certain to be rectified. It’s not like the de Havilland Comet’s shortcomings in fundamental design and construction.

      “If those incidents had only resulted in only one or two fatalities, per incident which is comparable to traffic accidents then the aircraft would not have been grounded.”
      Erm except there are awful many more automobiles operating at any time than jetliners. Any safety flaws in driverless cars would be revealed and rectified a lot more rapidly.
      And furthermore; Jetliners have been increasingly automated for decades already yet it’s taken until now for one model of one product of one manufacturer to have revealed one freak flaw in its automation.

      If Jetlienrs had never had any automation; there would’ve been many more accidents to date.

      1. “Your opinion won’t be shared by anyone who makes decisions. And that’s because they will be better informed than you.”

        “Huh? “Litigation regimes”? Do you understand what “litigation” means? And you might want to take more time constructing sentences; “inadequate to ensure anywhere near adequate” is self-explanatory.”

        Two reasons you might want to introduce a little courtesy to your comments, Daniel:
        1/ You might offend people and wouldn’t even know it.
        2/ It reflects badly on you so people consider your argument less.

        1. I don’t care at all if you take me seriously or not. I’ve seen people entertain some completely ridiculous nonsense others have fed them on here (example: moving Auckland’s port to Manukau harbour). It’s your loss and not mine if you want to give some of these people credence and not me.

          I might take what you’ve said seriously if you can show me where you’ve said anything like this to some of the far ruder, more abrasive and more overbearing people on here than me. If you’d like to know whom I’m talking about I can name some names.

          And Don Robertson did not use the correct term with “litigation regimes”. I think he meant regulatory regimes instead.

      2. Daniel
        The Max 8 crashes were caused by the failure of a sensor, a sensor with a known high failure rate. This caused the automation to direct the plane towards the ground and set of a cascading set of conflicting cockpit warnings without prioritising the lead failure.
        Boeing had designed the system on the mistaken assumption that in the event of this not uncommon sensor failure two pilots could cope, quickly counteracting, and then importantly disabling the correct part of the automation, using a sequence of actions they had not been trained for.
        Enhanced training for airline pilots will be a result of these crashes. And how much operator training will be required for operators of autonomous vehicles?
        But you are right Boeing was under both cost and time pressure to match Airbus’s latest offering.
        Pressures that are more routine and even more intense in the motor manufacturing industry, and they have less regulatory oversight.
        To compare Max 8 safety failure with the safety failure of the first ever jet airliner produced, the Comet, nearly seventy years ago is simply absurd.

        1. While this has put Boeing and the FAA process in a bad light; I don’t see the logic in using it as an example to completely rubbish automation let alone driverless cars. The continual automation of Jetliners has been a key to why they’ve become statistically one of the safest modes of travel and if pilots were still flying these beasts on instruments without any automation; that safety record would probably be instead as abysmal as it once was.

          And I wasn’t comparing the Comet to the 737 MAx, I was saying how this is not a fundamental flaw like the Comet’s square windows were as it’s rectifiable. The 737 MAX will probably be entering service again by July of next year and it’s most likely that there won’t be any other control system problems with this aircraft again.

        2. There is ongoing incremental application of automation in current motor vehicles, which when successfully implemented has been tremendous. But there has also been significant failures in implementation by even the most reputable automobile manufacturers that has resulted in fatalities.
          It is a huge step upwards to full automation on our open access roadway space.
          Nor do I believe the answer to be to further privilege motor vehicle access to the bulk of the roadway corridor to enable automation to work.
          Driverless Metro on fully segregated routes, and equipped with the proven robust mechanical flanged wheel on steel rail guidance is a long way short of robot cars dodging other cars, elderly sight impaired pedestrians and mobility gopher drivers, and youthful cyclists and skateboarders on our roads.

        3. Obviously driverless rail metros don’t need to meet as many requirements as driverless automobiles do. That’s why they were first being built over 30 years ago now.

          As should be expected over a 30 year period where a particular technology is being developed; automation-related technologies have come a long way in that timeframe since. Think about this: It’s been a long time since militaries have had pitol-less drones that are able to accurately bomb people from unseen altitudes accurately in all sorts of conditions. Automobiles don’t need control systems anywhere near as sophisticated.
          There will be a point when automobile manufacturers will at least be able to deliver systems (possibly installed from an outside provider) that will be able to drive ambulances, buses, delivery vehicles, etc. to an obviously higher standard than humans can for a price that makes it worthwhile and which will save them the costs of staffing. Maybe there might be some teething issues at first but they will be safer than human drivers.

        4. As per this video showing the construction of the Victorian line in the 60’s they brought in “Driverless Trains” which is a misnomer as they all had drivers who closed the doors and started the trains . And the reason why the passengers wanted them as they felt safer with someone in the Cab . this is the shorter of the 2 video’s ;-

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRRSJ_wtIg&list=PLfsLs-KBeTyyGnv-2WrwyjRR7o4yQjNkC&index=10&t=0s

          And my other question is – who will be charged if the driverless cars kills somebody if going between pickups , The person that hired it , the person going to hire it or the faceless company that owns it ?

        5. “As per this video showing the construction of the Victorian line in the 60’s..”
          Things have changed in 50 years.

          “And my other question is – who will be charged if the driverless cars kills somebody if going between pickups , The person that hired it , the person going to hire it or the faceless company that owns it ?”
          Unless it’s due to some malfunction; in which case the owner or manufacturer would be charged, a driverless car won’t hit anything unless there was literally no way to avoid it, in which case no party will be charged (as is the case with human drivers when accident investigators draw that conclusion).

  4. The pedestrians will be fine. It will be 50 years before you remove traffic lights. There will still be lots of human driven cars around for a long time that will need traffic lights. And in 50 years we will all have fusion-powered jet packs! Problem solved.

    1. After reading your comment Ari I feel compelled to track down old episodes of Beyond 2000 to see what marvels we should be enjoying now with transport.

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