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...of workers.

A short piece on self-driving trucks. There are over 1M truck drivers in the US (per the story).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qs69m9T-4Rk
(VICE News)

As the driver in the piece said, he has no idea what he'd do if this tech made him obsolete. I don't think it's "if", but rather "when". And "when" is probably within my lifetime, IMO.
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probably within my lifetime

I think the tech will exist in your lifetime, I am not convinced the regulatory capacity will exist in your lifetime - at least for interstate transport.

I read a story this morning about Tesla owners being locked out of their car for a while because the app was down. They didn't have their key on them so they were stuck.


Imagine a nightmare scenario where "the app goes down" while a few hundred are on the road at one time, resulting in the loss of vehicle control.

Things can and will go wrong and despite the fact that they will eventually be safer than a human driver, I foresee that we will want to have human backup control long after these things can drive themselves.
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I think the tech will exist in your lifetime,...

It already does. So check that box. :-)

...I am not convinced the regulatory capacity will exist in your lifetime - at least for interstate transport.

With pressure from business I suspect that would be addressed quickly. Pressure from the public often has little effect, but when business says they can save millions or billions of dollars, legislation will follow. Part of having the best congress that money can buy.

The app going down is just a feature wherein you can unlock your car with your phone. IGU undoubtedly can (and will) correct me if I misspoke, but I'm pretty sure that's all it was. It's not the function of the vehicle, just your ability to use your phone to do a few things with it (like unlock it, maybe to summon it -a cool feature-, maybe to turn on the A/C so it's cool in the cabin when you get in, etc). But if you get in (you should have your key or it's your own damn fault!), you can start it and drive whether or not you have a smartphone with the app.

So I really don't think you have to worry about the car (or truck) doing weird things on the freeway just because the app has an issue.

I think the job of truck driver is going away. And much sooner than most think. It's a huge cost savings, and business will demand to be able to do it.
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A short piece on self-driving trucks. There are over 1M truck drivers in the US (per the story).

May not be as big a problem as you think. According to this NPR article there is currently a shortage of truck drivers and the average age is 55 years old. This seems to be a baby boomer occupation that later generations aren't interested in pursuing.

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/576752327/trucking-industry-s...

"Demographics are working against the industry," Leathers says. "The trucking industry average age is about 10 years older than the average age across other comparable industries like manufacturing and construction. So as those retirements are taking place, we're just not seeing the same level of new entrants into the industry."

The industry has struggled to attract new drivers because the lifestyle of a trucker is less than ideal. Drivers are often forced to be on the road for extended periods of time, causing fatigue, and many suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea.
"
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It already does.

I think we are talking about two different things then. The tech that would allow a semi to load in SF port and unload in Toledo Walmart, all without human intervention doesn't exist yet (to the best of my knowledge). The vehicle can't refuel/recharge itself and cannot necessary navigate all traffic conditions.

With pressure from business I suspect that would be addressed quickly.

Not buying it. I don't think businesses are any more eager to assume the full liability of accidents. Currently, they can push off some of that liability on the driver - in many cases, a contract driver.

So I really don't think you have to worry about the car (or truck) doing weird things on the freeway just because the app has an issue.

You don't think a vehicle might make a wrong turn (or not turn at all) if it either can't access current road conditions or the data it is getting is wrong? Let me guess, your navigation or google map directions have never been wrong? If so, you must be one of the very few.

It is not unheard of for Telsa autopilot to malfunction. Whoa be the company that has their 18-wheeler autopilot malfunction resulting in a double digit fatality. Heck, Boeing has grounded an entire fleet of aircraft over two tech failures leading to mass casualties.

Yet, pilot jobs have not gone away. Pilots can make $250k+, huge cost savings to be had there.
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The tech that would allow a semi to load in SF port and unload in Toledo Walmart, all without human intervention doesn't exist yet (to the best of my knowledge). The vehicle can't refuel/recharge itself and cannot necessary navigate all traffic conditions.

You don't need to get that far with the tech for this to be game-changing, because you can service the first and last miles with humans and save a ton of labor costs.

Just have humans load the semi and drive it to the freeway on-ramp. The truck then can drive on I-80/I-90 for 34 hours - never having to navigate anything other than highway conditions. Walmart (or the trucking company) can contract to have a human refuel the truck every X miles - or some enterprising gas station owners will offer "full service" to AV trucks.

Then, a Walmart employee takes over the big rig when it arrives at the exit ramp in Toledo, and drives it the last few miles.


Not buying it. I don't think businesses are any more eager to assume the full liability of accidents. Currently, they can push off some of that liability on the driver - in many cases, a contract driver.

I buy it. All you have to do is reach the point where the trucks are safer than human drivers. It's not like 18-wheeler crashes with double-digit fatalities can't happen (or don't happen) with human drivers, and it's not like the company isn't going to be liable for that crash today. If autonomy is safer than human drivers, then the lawsuits start going the other way as well - people suing companies for having human drivers instead of the safer autonomous ones.

But I'm not sure that the technology exists today for that to be the case. Perhaps soon....but not quite yet.

Albaby
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I read a story this morning about Tesla owners being locked out of their car for a while because the app was down. They didn't have their key on them so they were stuck.

You keep forgetting that pretty much everything you read about Tesla is BS. Yes, Tesla's server was down for several hours. No, hardly anybody had problems due to this; most Tesla drivers didn't even notice. But when you have hundreds of thousands of users, then the edge cases actually happen. The only people who couldn't get into their vehicles are those who were doing something stupid or risky, pretty much equivalent to not having their keys with them. And they could get in by simply calling Tesla.

For Model 3, most people use their phone as the key. If they logged out of Tesla's app (something there's no reason to do) and then tried to log back in while the server was down, it wouldn't work. For Models S & X, a fob is the usual way to unlock your vehicle -- there was no problem with that regardless of the state of the server. So, like I said, almost no problems, and few even noticed. The system worked as designed during a failure.

Meanwhile your "Imagine a nightmare scenario where "the app goes down" while a few hundred are on the road at one time, resulting in the loss of vehicle control." is just your imagination. Nobody has ever considered building a system where a connection to a live server is necessary to operate the vehicle. That's just stupid, for reasons that are all too obvious.

I foresee that we will want to have human backup control long after these things can drive themselves.

Sure, but not for anything remotely like "a server going down" or "the app crashing".

-IGU-
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The vehicle can't refuel/recharge itself and cannot necessary navigate all traffic conditions.

Definitely agree with the former. Refuel/recharge would have to be handled en-route by people. That does seems pretty simple, though. Truck knows it needs fuel (or charge), and pulls into a Flying J where an attendant fuels the vehicle (arranged by some contract or agreement with Flying J and the trucking company).

"All traffic conditions", yeah. Last I knew (and this could have changed) they still have problems with icy/snowy roads where they can't see markings or the edge of the road. Especially if it's actively snowing too. That's a problem for many humans as well.

You don't think a vehicle might make a wrong turn (or not turn at all) if it either can't access current road conditions or the data it is getting is wrong?

You didn't say that. You were concerned about a smartphone app that controlled the vehicle. Such an "outage" would be irrelevant to what we're discussing.

Is Google maps ever wrong? I can think of one time because someone input the wrong zip code (so it placed a business about 6 miles from where it actually was). It was annoying, yes (and I submitted the correction myself). Otherwise I find it to be amazingly accurate. Would an autonomous truck use such? I'm not sure. I would think it would upload the latest maps prior to departure so that it doesn't have to rely on cell towers or satellites or anything else. However, the engineers building this have undoubtedly already thought of a solution.

Whoa be the company that has their 18-wheeler autopilot malfunction resulting in a double digit fatality.

Sure. That does seem inevitable, too. No matter how good a system is it will never be 100%. But is it better than a human? I would say, from what I've seen/read, that it's better than a lot of them (i.e. lots of crappy drivers out there). But, no, it's not quite there yet. There is some debate about the best approach to get it there, too. I posted an article about that a while back which stated the "big data" approach may have reached its limits. That is probably the biggest hurdle, from what I can gather.

Companies would get the vehicle insured just as a driver would have to be insured. So probably not that much "woe" on their end. Liability insurance has been a fact of life for decades now. If the systems prove superior to humans they might even pay lower rates.
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If autonomy is safer than human drivers

In insurance, this is called high frequency – low severity vs low frequency - high severity.

Humans are a high(er) frequency, low(er) severity risks. For such risks, you mitigate them by retaining them and by taking steps to avoid/reduce their impact (e.g. driver training, screening, monitoring miles driven, etc.).

The potential for a tech failure leading to multiple failures would be a low frequency - high severity risk. You mitigate those risks with either insurance (an external party) - or if adequate substitutions exist, by avoidance. I have no idea how costly such insurance would be. I have my doubts that it would be necessarily cheaper than insurance on an individual driver. Since we have no examples of this for any other industry, and as the insurance industry is usually very conservative when it comes to new risks, I tend to think such insurance will be over priced.

Until this tech can repeatedly demonstrate that it can safely operate during DOS attacks on their communication network and that the vehicles can continue to operate safely during a network crash or failure, then I would argue that adequate substitutions (humans in the cab), will continue to be the norm. And that is to say nothing about the regulatory environment for interstate transport.

This is also why we don't see AI passenger travel (or even cargo transport) even though we already have existing technology to easily get a plane of people (or cargo) from one coast to the other. We want humans there just in case. We could already be doing what you suggest with air freight but we fear the risk of what happens if the tech fails. Certainly FedEx could save money by not having pilots in their planes.
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I suspect the early solution will be to keep a "driver" in the cab for getting to the highway, refueling, getting off the highway and to the loading dock. But, because that person is not driving for the large stretch of time, there would be no log book issues or mandatory rest time.


c
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Until this tech can repeatedly demonstrate that it can safely operate during DOS attacks on their communication network and that the vehicles can continue to operate safely during a network crash or failure, then I would argue that adequate substitutions (humans in the cab), will continue to be the norm. And that is to say nothing about the regulatory environment for interstate transport.

Again, it all comes down to whether the AI system is safer (on the whole) than humans. Even accounting for severity and frequency. The AI system won't be safer unless it has enough totally onboard autonomy to proceed to its destination (or come to a safe stop) if the network crashes or fails. It will have to have adequate defenses against being hacked. But given that human driver error exists, AI can at least theoretically be safer than a human behind the wheel. Once that happens, the "regulatory environment" for interstate transport may switch very quickly from prohibiting AI to mandating it as the safer option.

This is also why we don't see AI passenger travel (or even cargo transport) even though we already have existing technology to easily get a plane of people (or cargo) from one coast to the other. We want humans there just in case. We could already be doing what you suggest with air freight but we fear the risk of what happens if the tech fails. Certainly FedEx could save money by not having pilots in their planes.

I don't think that's true. We don't have technology that could do this with consistency, which is why we don't do it. We don't have it yet for trucks, either, which is why we don't do it yet. The claim is that we are relatively close to having AI that can drive trucks as well as humans can. I don't know whether that claim is accurate - but if that turns out to be the case at some point, I don't think that either liability or the regulatory system will stop it from being implemented.

Albaby
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prohibiting AI to mandating it as the safer option.

You honestly think there is, or soon will be, the political will to mandate the termination of nearly 2 million jobs?

I think we would sooner mandate a prohibition on coal mining than see a law that fires 1.7 million truck drivers. And, there are only 50,000 coal miners. And and, we know that there are existing safer alternatives to coal.
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You keep forgetting that pretty much everything you read about Tesla is BS.

Yes yes. I keep forgetting that you are the only person that has access to the true Tesla information - apparently not publically available anywhere. Even posts by Tesla owners on Tesla's twitter feed should be regarded as BS.

Good thing you are here to remind us of this, often.

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/297733-tesla-model-3-own...

@Tesla your server is down for maintenance and we’re locked out of the car. What’s your ETA?

— Melissa Chan (@melissachanhk) September 2, 2019

------------
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I read a story this morning about Tesla owners being locked out of their car for a while because the app was down. They didn't have their key on them so they were stuck.

To my understanding, no internet connection is required to unlock the Model 3. It is a direct Bluetooth link between cell phone app and car when you are nearby, that unlocks it.

Tesla recommends that you also carry its thin RFID card in your wallet as a "backup key" in case your cell phone is lost or stolen or has dead battery. Then it’s just a matter of touching the card to the B pillar and the car unlocks.

I’ve become so used to not carrying a car key, that I locked myself out of my house once. Because my house key used to be on the same ring as my car key. But that incident got me thinking: why don’t house doors also unlock via Bluetooth instead of having to fiddle them with a key, which is what, at least a 500 year old technology?
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To my understanding, no internet connection is required to unlock the Model 3. It is a direct Bluetooth link between cell phone app and car when you are nearby, that unlocks it.

No idea, just sharing what I read (linked above):

Some who could successfully log in saw no cars listed. Approaching the car as usual did not unlock the door. With no recourse, these unfortunate Model 3 owners had to call Tesla, complain, and wait for a resolution. One Model 3 owner inconvenienced by the server maintenance says the outage lasted about three and a half hours.

-----------

But, that isn't the point. The point is that technology fails and if a fleet of vehicles is dependent on that technology working, not just 99.9% of the time but 100% of the time, then we are likely to continue to rely on "analog" backup for a long time.


I’ve become so used to not carrying a car key, that I locked myself out of my house once.

Learned my lesson the hard way on that one too - but due to a power outage. Was not able to open my garage and get in my house and I don't carry a front door key.

Today, the front door has a keycode powered by a battery (with an external 9v recharge port). Could have opted for Bluetooth access but it was $50 more and I just didn't see the need.

Looking forward to more biometric fingerprint access. I don't like the idea of being forced to use my phone to gain access to my car or house. It seems to take longer than a key would (or a key fob) and it requires just one more reason to carry my phone (and one more potential vulnerability if I am hacked).
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You honestly think there is, or soon will be, the political will to mandate the termination of nearly 2 million jobs?

I think we would sooner mandate a prohibition on coal mining than see a law that fires 1.7 million truck drivers. And, there are only 50,000 coal miners. And and, we know that there are existing safer alternatives to coal.


Yeah, but coal mines don't kill five kids in a church van on their way to Disney World:

https://www.news4jax.com/news/dashvan-captured-moments-befor...

Nor do coal mines have an "exactly the same, but safer and cheaper" perfect substitute that regulators have to overlook.

I don't think there's political will to mandate the termination of nearly 2 million jobs - but once that number gets significantly whittled down through companies voluntarily switching to AI, those types of very dramatic incidents will make it hard for regulators to avoid forcing the safer option.

But you do have a point - there will be a lot of countervailing political pressure to 'save jobs,' even if the jobs aren't that great and there are real negative externalities to allowing them to continue. It might just be litigation and insurance, and not regulation, that ends up being the fatal blow against human-driven trucks.

Albaby
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Until this tech can repeatedly demonstrate that it can safely operate during DOS attacks on their communication network and that the vehicles can continue to operate safely during a network crash or failure, then I would argue that adequate substitutions (humans in the cab), will continue to be the norm. And that is to say nothing about the regulatory environment for interstate transport.

Things are actually moving pretty quickly, particularly in red states where population centers tend to be small and far apart.

Louisiana's new law took effect Aug 1 that "...lets a commercial vehicle travel without a human driver inside if it’s registered, complies with federal and state laws, and is insured for at least $2 million." http://www.louisianaweekly.com/driverless-trucks-are-coming-...

Starsky Robotics will start testing their autonomous vehicles in the state soon.

The US postal service combined with TuSimple for pilot study on using autonomous trucks between Arizona and Texas distribution centers. The goal is to make the same runs without humans in 2020. https://www.electronicdesign.com/automotive/tusimple-complet...

Amazon is apparently testing self-driving trucks on I-10. They are working with Embark, which is developing a model of no-driver self-driving on certain long-haul interstate routes, then handing the trailers off at transfer hubs to driver-operated local trucks. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/30/amazon-is-hauling-cargo-in-s...

Lots of autonomous trucks being tested in Texas where there are long highways with nothing much to hit.
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Yeah, but coal mines don't kill five kids in a church van on their way to Disney World:

Yeah, sure, but can we say the same thing about all the personal and social costs of black lung?

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-07-spike-black-lung-dise...

Heck, one could even argue that it would be easier to ban coal mining since it would impact such very small geographic region where as there are truck drivers living in every state. Politically, representatives could likely steamroll over the few coal mining states if they really wanted to.

there will be a lot of countervailing political pressure to 'save jobs,'

And, I think such is perhaps underestimated. Bans that result in the loss of entire professions are exceedingly rare. I can't even think of a single one off the top of my head. It seems we usually let the marketplace take care of such evolution.

There are entire industries that do nothing but harm (tobacco for example) yet no one is anticipating the manufacture of cigarettes being banned.

If it becomes REALLY apparent that AI trucks are better, I think it more likely that we will see tax incentives or other economic tools used to encourage their adoption. "Bans" are vitriolic for too many Americans, and their representatives.
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Maybe this would be a good time to begin phasing out human drivers?

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/576752327/trucking-industry-s...

A report from the American Trucking Associations says more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck, but the industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand.

k
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Yeah, sure, but can we say the same thing about all the personal and social costs of black lung?

It's different. Nearly everyone can feel pretty safe that they and their kids aren't going into a coal mine for a long enough period to avoid black lung. They'll pass a semi-truck almost every time they get on a freeway.

Heck, one could even argue that it would be easier to ban coal mining since it would impact such very small geographic region where as there are truck drivers living in every state. Politically, representatives could likely steamroll over the few coal mining states if they really wanted to.

Quite the contrary, actually. A constituency that's concentrated in a small area, but it heavily influential with a handful of Senators, can be more powerful than one that's dispersed across every state. That's why farmers and coal miners have a lot of very visible political power, but retailers as a job classification don't have as much.

And, I think such is perhaps underestimated. Bans that result in the loss of entire professions are exceedingly rare. I can't even think of a single one off the top of my head. It seems we usually let the marketplace take care of such evolution.

The one that I was thinking of was the transition from horsed to horseless carriages, which I'm sure put an awful lot of grooms and stable men and coachmen out of a job. In the early years of the automobile, it was heralded as a savior that liberated big dense cities from massive amounts of manure, dead horses, and the odors and diseases that spread from them. Cities began banning horse-drawn buggies from wide swatches of streets in order to foster public health.

Albaby
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Until this tech can repeatedly demonstrate that it can safely operate during DOS attacks on their communication network and that the vehicles can continue to operate safely during a network crash or failure, then I would argue that adequate substitutions (humans in the cab), will continue to be the norm.

I could be wrong, but I don't believe any of that would be relevant to an autonomous vehicle on the move. It would know where it's going, and so long as the GPS satellites are still in orbit, it should know where it is. I would be shocked if they were relying on cell towers or any similar network.

Can't comment on the interstate transport regulations beyond saying that if business wants it, it will happen. Again...best congress money can buy.

Regarding pilots, you may be too young to remember this. The cockpit used to have THREE people in it, all capable of flying the aircraft. The third seat is gone now. There's only two. I am not a pilot, but it is my understanding that the commercial planes do pretty much fly themselves now. Clearly if someone is doing something stupid with the software you can get a 737-MAX problem, though having two pilots on board just created two extra casualties in that case.
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I keep forgetting that you are the only person that has access to the true Tesla information - apparently not publically available anywhere. Even posts by Tesla owners on Tesla's twitter feed should be regarded as BS.

When you lack context, as you do, you can't tell BS from real news. In this case the person complaining on twitter didn't mention "This is a problem only because I don't have my key card with me, despite Tesla telling me to do so." The key card functions as a backup means of entry and driving if the phone doesn't work. This person also doesn't say "And this is happening only because I logged out of my Tesla app for some reason known only to me." There's rarely any occasion to do that.

As well, the author of the article you reference didn't know enough to avoid inaccurate statements regarding the situation. So it ended up just spreading misinformation. And you ended up spreading it to here.

You also don't seem to be aware that Tesla's server being down if functionally no different than the car being driven somewhere that there's no signal. Unconnected is equivalent to no server at all. Obviously the system must work fine in that situation because it happens all the time. And it does work fine. Of course some people have problems because they log out of the app, can't get back in, and don't have their key card. But they're just embarrassed, call Tesla (unless there's no voice signal too), and get their car going again. But if they can't call and don't have their key card, they're in the same position as any ICE car driver who lost their keys. So sorry.

So yeah, pretty clearly the article bemoaning how Tesla owners were locked out of their cars because Tesla's server went down is misleading at best. The proper headline is something like "Tesla owners who forgot their key cards call Tesla to get going again. No charge."

I'm pretty sure that a poll of Tesla owners as to who wants to give up the phone working as a key because it fails occasionally, would find few making that choice.

-IGU-
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But if you get in (you should have your key or it's your own damn fault!), you can start it and drive whether or not you have a smartphone with the app.

Normally, for the Model 3, the phone functions to both unlock the car and to allow it to be driven. And the key card functions as a backup for both purposes. If you have neither a functioning phone nor a key card, you can't drive the car even if you can get in. For the Models S & X, they come with fobs as the primary key, and the phone can serve as a backup.

All of these have another security feature called PIN to Drive. Even if you are otherwise authorized, before you can drive the car it will ask you to enter a PIN using the screen.

Absolutely none of this stuff requires a server connection.

-IGU-
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Just have humans load the semi and drive it to the freeway on-ramp. The truck then can drive on I-80/I-90 for 34 hours - never having to navigate anything other than highway conditions.

Hmmm. So now for every “driverless” truck I need to have 2 drivers, one to drive it to the freeway on-ramp, and another to bring him back to the warehouse. And at the other end I need to have two drivers, one to bring the WalMart driver to the drop off point, and another to actually drive the rig back to the WalMart.

So now my driverless truck requires four drivers instead of one. Two of those, at least, have to be certified and qualified to drive an 18 wheeler to boot.

I think I’m seeing a weakness in your plan ;)
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because you can service the first and last miles with humans and save a ton of labor costs.

Reminds me of the first story I heard of a guy who combined Loran and auto-pilot technology in a yacht.

He didn't want to deal with crappy weather on a northbound voyage.

He claims he and his partners programmed the yacht's Loran and autopilot to follow a course from the seabuoy outside a central california harbor to the seabuoy outside a northern california harbor.

They set the throttles at 8 knots as it approached buoy 2 and hopped off into their zodiac dingy.

They went back into the harbor. deflated the dingy, put it in the car, drove to the northern harbor, checked into a hotel. 1.5 days later they inflated the dingy, motored out to the seabuoy, came alongside the approaching yacht, boarded the yacht, turned off the autopilot and drove the yacht into it's new homeport slip.

(No comment on the risks and maritime rules violations that were broken if it actually happened, but they claim they did it) ..


Over the years I have dealt with the results of people who, though still onboard, entrusted the navigation of their yachts to GPS + Autopilot. Autopilots don't know about rocks, reefs and sandbars.
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Hmmm. So now for every “driverless” truck I need to have 2 drivers, one to drive it to the freeway on-ramp, and another to bring him back to the warehouse. And at the other end I need to have two drivers

Except, of course that they don’t have to sit in the truck for, say, a 36 hour ride.

Say it takes the first driver-pair a half hour to launch the truck onto the freeway and return themselves to the warehouse, and the second pair a half hour to collect the truck at the other end, that’s a total of two man-hours instead of 36 man-hours. That enables a 94% reduction in truckers (36-34/36). (conservative estimate, because time no longer lost in stopovers at Dunkin' Donuts, Mustang Ranch, sick leave, sleeping off hangovers etc would constitute additional efficiency gains).
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It would know where it's going, and so long as the GPS satellites are still in orbit, it should know where it is. I would be shocked if they were relying on cell towers or any similar network.

I cursed myself.

Just last night I was using google maps and it took me to a dead-end street. No joke. It was in a neighborhood where they had not finished connecting one neighborhood to the other long ago (grass covered common area between the two dead-end streets).
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Hmmm. So now for every “driverless” truck I need to have 2 drivers, one to drive it to the freeway on-ramp, and another to bring him back to the warehouse. And at the other end I need to have two drivers, one to bring the WalMart driver to the drop off point, and another to actually drive the rig back to the WalMart.

So now my driverless truck requires four drivers instead of one. Two of those, at least, have to be certified and qualified to drive an 18 wheeler to boot.

I think I’m seeing a weakness in your plan ;)


Except my local drivers can drive scores of trucks from the local destination to the freeway and back - and don't have to drive the trucks for the 34 hours of drive time (double if the driver has to rest half the time) between the cities.

I can run my plan with a fraction of the licensed drivers, putting in a fraction of the time. Of course, you need more facilities for marshalling and storing vehicles, and the logistics get more complicated. But it's still much, much cheaper on the labor side.

Albaby
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I cursed myself.

Made he laugh.

Actually, I did think of another situation I had. The map took me to an alley behind the business I was seeking. I suspect someone dropped the pin in the wrong place (I submitted a correction to that also). I was not familiar with that area, so followed it. Just had to loop around.

Though I am liking the idea others are putting forth about taking a truck to an on-ramp, then letting it travel for how-many-days where it exits the freeway and is "picked up" by someone to take it the last mile. Still requires drivers, but for very short distances and times. Still a huge savings for the businesses, and faster delivery since an AI wouldn't have limits on drive-time (i.e. no mandated rest periods).
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Except my local drivers can drive scores of trucks from the local destination to the freeway and back - and don't have to drive the trucks for the 34 hours of drive time (double if the driver has to rest half the time) between the cities.
I can run my plan with a fraction of the licensed drivers, putting in a fraction of the time. Of course, you need more facilities for marshalling and storing vehicles, and the logistics get more complicated. But it's still much, much cheaper on the labor side.


I didn’t mean there would be no advantages, but...

There is no infrastructure in place to “drop off” hundreds of semis “somewhere on the road” waiting for a human driver to show up. Where does this take place? At the exit ramps? Methinks this will be a rather congested, confusing mess unless there are some serious changes made. Truck parking lots at major exits?

There is some long haul trucking, no doubt, but the big slug of it goes by rail to distribution warehouses. I don’t know how it is for other firms, but I know WalMart built its business by locating its stores within 5 hours of a DW so trucks could make the journey and back in one day. No “36 hours” rides.

It isn’t only about hours, more employees working the same hours still costs more. Hours are important, of course, but more humans, even with the same hours, means more vacation, 401k, HR, payroll expense an d paperwork, sick days, etc.

I can’t wait to see what happens on a snow day, with white on the ground obscuring the lane markings and the grocery store running out of well, everything.

And I suspect the loaders and unloaders at each of WalMart’s 5,000 stores, or the 20-30,000 grocery stores, or the <fill in the retail> will now have to have a qualified 18 wheel driver on duty, rather than a couple of guys to unload boxes. Of course those qualified truck drivers will mostly not be driving a truck, so will their wages be closers to box loaders or truck drivers?

And hey, about those distribution centers. You’ve seen them, right? Sometimes 20, sometimes a hundred platforms for loading. How many drivers standing by to handle that? And drivers of drivers?

Grocery stores are serviced by multiple vendors, each with their own truck. Coke and Pepsi stock their own aisles from their own trucks. The bread guys are independently delivered, they don’t go through the distribution warehouse. Likewise the water guys, the gas cylinder guys, and often the dairy and other departments too.

Again, I’m not saying this won’t impact the industry, surely it will. Just that it’s not so simple as “wow, no more drivers needed!” If/when this takes a slice of the business, it will be a small fraction, I think. There’s a “gee whiz” factor to be sure, and it gets a lot of ink, it’s just that it will take a very long time to iron out the kinks before this becomes a truly significant percentage of delivery, IMO.
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There is no infrastructure in place to “drop off” hundreds of semis “somewhere on the road” waiting for a human driver to show up. Where does this take place? At the exit ramps?

I think the infrastructure is already in place. WalMart for example has about 150 giant distribution centers spread across the U.S., all located within easy access to major highways and no more than 200 miles away from the next facility (well within the range of an electric truck).
http://www.mwpvl.com/html/walmart.html

First thing to happen will likely be truck convoys in which a lead truck driven by a human is electronically connected to some number of self-driving trucks that follow close behind. It should be pretty easy to organize this such that the human driver is periodically replaced, allowing the driverless vehicles to travel mostly non-stop except for recharging. A five day cross-country trip by current trucks is reduced to two days, a considerable advantage.
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There is no infrastructure in place to “drop off” hundreds of semis “somewhere on the road” waiting for a human driver to show up. Where does this take place? At the exit ramps? Methinks this will be a rather congested, confusing mess unless there are some serious changes made. Truck parking lots at major exits?

Yes, probably. Pick a major exit just far enough outside of town that you can pick up 10 or 20 acres without it being too expensive, and set up a transfer station. Autonomous rigs come in off the highway and park, and a driver gets in and drives the last few miles to the Walmart, then drives it to the port (or wherever) to get the outbound containers, then back to the transfer station to pick up another truck. Or just back to the transfer station if it's going outbound empty. Then that driver picks up another truck.

You won't need to queue "hundreds" of semis at any one time - they'll be constantly cycling in and out. You don't need Walmart pickers or handlers to drive the trucks, either; the driver will come in on the truck and leave on the truck, just like today. But you'll be able to use a much smaller pool of truck drivers, since the bulk of the journey (the 30+ driving hours from California to Ohio, plus down time) won't need a driver.

That's assuming, of course, that the tech gets there. It might not, of course. But while there might be serious, and perhaps insurmountable, difficulties with edge cases it seems like exit-to-exit interstate highway driving might be solvable relatively soon, even for inclement weather conditions. And unlike private passenger cars, for long-haul interstate trucking there are ways to structure the business so that you can have a human take over for the non-highway driving.

Albaby
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Pick a major exit just far enough outside of town that you can pick up 10 or 20 acres without it being too expensive,

I can't think of any major metro area that is going to have 20 acres of real estate laying around just being inexpensive - and you likely will need multiple locations depending on the size of your city.

We now have probably have 30 of these within 10 square miles of one another (note the article was from 2015):

Here a warehouse, there a warehouse, everywhere a warehouse

https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/04/19/warehouse-war...

The building is colossal, larger than 16 football fields. The interior is so immense that it's hard to see from one end to the other.

It's the largest vacant warehouse in Central Indiana, sprawling across 13 acres in Plainfield. It measures nearly 1 million square feet, with ceilings 36 feet high.

-----------

I am not sure 20 acres would be enough of a parking lot for all the distribution centers referenced above, or pictured below.


Here is the sat image of the area. Amazon, Dixks, Burlington Coat, Home Depot, FoxConn, Belkin, to name a few there.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Perry+Rd,+Plainfield,+IN+4...
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I am not sure 20 acres would be enough of a parking lot for all the distribution centers referenced above, or pictured below.
Here is the sat image of the area. Amazon, Dixks, Burlington Coat, Home Depot, FoxConn, Belkin, to name a few there.


I see hundreds and hundreds of easily develop-able flat acres around the Chewy.com and Love's Truck center less than 5 miles east of that warehouse/freight center, on Hwy70. I'd love to own that Love's if it happens!
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I see hundreds and hundreds of easily develop-able flat acres around the Chewy.com and Love's Truck center less than 5 miles east of that warehouse/freight center,


Loves is 8 miles west of that area. Keep in mind that the further one goes out from the distribution area, you add 2x the fuel costs for somebody, either the company or the employee, to get to the staging area and back.

And that still doesn't make that property cheap - or easily developed. Lots of NIMBY issues with trying to bring thousands of vehicles and hundreds of employees (that don't really work in that community and may not live there), to what is otherwise rural farming communities.
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<<And that still doesn't make that property cheap - or easily developed. Lots of NIMBY issues with trying to bring thousands of vehicles and hundreds of employees (that don't really work in that community and may not live there), to what is otherwise rural farming communities.>>


It's not surprising that people see insuperable barriers to such development.


But businesses solve such problems every day.

Fear not!


Seattle Pioneer
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I can't think of any major metro area that is going to have 20 acres of real estate laying around just being inexpensive - and you likely will need multiple locations depending on the size of your city.

You probably already have them. Truck stops exist (I have a client who develops them) - areas with large numbers of truck parking facilities where drivers burn off their mandatory hours of downtime. They're not going to be close in to your downtown center - but then again, neither are your big distribution centers.

For example, the satellite image you posted showed all those big distribution centers are already on the edge of the metro area, several miles outside of downtown Indianapolis. Scroll one exit west on I-70, and you can see "Love's Travel Shop" - a gas station that currently has about a hundred semi parking spaces, with space to put another 60-80 on that site - and an empty parcel nearly double the size right across the street. It's barely ten minutes down the highway from the industrial park.

And if that's not workable, there's plenty of vacant land at that exit. You might not even have to go that ten minutes. Honestly, that industrial park is itself immediately adjacent to the freeway interchange - pretty easy for AV trucks to get on and off the highway without ever traversing any streets other than industrial ones. To say nothing of the large agricultural areas south of I-70 on Route 267 - you could pick up 20 acres there, and just have drivers shuttle the semis north and south on 267 all day.

Albaby
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I was thinking about truck stops also. They're already there, they are designed to handle 18-wheelers, and they're almost by definition right off of a freeway exit.

They would also be necessary for any cross-country trucking as recharging stations. There would need to be agreements that staff at the truck stop would physically plug the truck in, and then unplug later.

1pg
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They would also be necessary for any cross-country trucking as recharging stations. There would need to be agreements that staff at the truck stop would physically plug the truck in, and then unplug later.

1pg


We don't have to wait for EV Trucks. I can imagine diesel trucks fitted with autonomous controls. EV's can come later.

I can't see the Teamsters being in favor of this whole idea.

CNC
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Truck stops exist (I have a client who develops them) - areas with large numbers of truck parking facilities where drivers burn off their mandatory hours of downtime.

============================

and the trucks would not have to stay as long, since they are not their for downtime. We may need fewer instead of more
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their = there
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<<For example, the satellite image you posted showed all those big distribution centers are already on the edge of the metro area, several miles outside of downtown Indianapolis. Scroll one exit west on I-70, and you can see "Love's Travel Shop" - a gas station that currently has about a hundred semi parking spaces, with space to put another 60-80 on that site - and an empty parcel nearly double the size right across the street. It's barely ten minutes down the highway from the industrial park.

And if that's not workable, there's plenty of vacant land at that exit. You might not even have to go that ten minutes. Honestly, that industrial park is itself immediately adjacent to the freeway interchange - pretty easy for AV trucks to get on and off the highway without ever traversing any streets other than industrial ones. To say nothing of the large agricultural areas south of I-70 on Route 267 - you could pick up 20 acres there, and just have drivers shuttle the semis north and south on 267 all day.

Albaby>>



Why is it that businesspeople figure these things out every day but so many of the "creative class" can't imagine it happening at all?


Seattle Pioneer
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their = there

Because there’s no there, their
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They would also be necessary for any cross-country trucking as recharging stations. There would need to be agreements that staff at the truck stop would physically plug the truck in, and then unplug later.

I would imagine the trucks will have universal docking ports on the front such that nobody will have to manually plug or unplug them.

The trucks will dock themselves to charging ports like roomba vacuums.
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their = there
---
Because there’s no there, their


Shouldn't that be "because there's no 'their' there"?

DB2
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sano: The trucks will dock themselves to charging ports like roomba vacuums.

Atsa one big roomba! How many tons of steel & cargo? But, yes, that's how I see it.

With only a little standardization, an automatic diesel refueling isn't very far fetched. I think of those big side-mounted tanks.

But, but, what of all those truck stop coffee shops?

CNC
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The biggest challenge would probably be the caps. Fuel tank cap, outlet cover cap, etc. Just extending something to connect to the truck is no big deal, but the truck almost certainly would want a cap to keep crud out of the orifice, and that would have to be removed (and replaced).
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1pg: The biggest challenge would probably be the caps. Fuel tank cap, outlet cover cap, etc. Just extending something to connect to the truck is no big deal, but the truck almost certainly would want a cap to keep crud out of the orifice, and that would have to be removed (and replaced).

What part of "minor modification" confused you? Yes, the trucks would need to be standardized enough to permit automatic refueling. I even envision enough electronics to permit a partial fill-up.

CNC
... Lard. I done taught you everything I know, and you're still ignorant.
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It's not surprising that people see insuperable barriers to such development

I have never said these are “insuperable” barriers. Just that it’s a longer way off than all this “gee whiz” speculation might lead someone to believe.

For instance, albaby talks about the truck stops which already exist. True. Unfortunately they already exist for the (ICE) trucks which are already on the road. If you want to have a “drop off” truck stop somewhere got EV trucks then you have to build it or convert it (which seems premature.) That is not “insuperable”, but it requires capital, equipment to make such (automatic) refueling possible, parking, some sort of method of compensation to the lot owner, contracts with trucking companies, etc. Again (and for the third time) none of that is “insuperable”, it just takes time. Not to mention that “self driving trucks” are in the pre-predevelopment stage themselves, perhaps comparable to the internet in 1992. Think CompuServe, not even AOL, much less broadband.

Except my local drivers can drive scores of trucks from the local destination to the freeway and back

True. But then at most Walmart has 3 bays, Target has two, Kroger has two, so these are independent drivers ferrying autonomous trucks from your not-yet-existing parking lots to various stores, a sort of “gig-economy” trucker for local delivery, I guess. Funny thing, the big stores, UPS etc. contract their own drivers for security, so they don’t go into the back and pillage the merchandise, among other things. Not “insuperable”, obviously.

You won't need to queue "hundreds" of semis at any one time - they'll be constantly cycling in and out.


I don’t think you know how many big rigs travel down the main corridors. Sit on I-81 in Tennessee for an hour or two and count them. It’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, 24/7, not all going the same place, but outside a city it can be dozens stacked up on an exit ramp waiting for a light change. Unless you have the logistics down to a Berlin Airlift precision you’re going to need huge drop off areas, probably complete with charging facilities and repair shops. Not insuperable, of course. Just time and money.

I was thinking about truck stops also. They're already there, they are designed to handle 18-wheelers, and they're almost by definition right off of a freeway exit.

Truck stops are designed to handle a dozen, perhaps two dozen trucks refueling with diesel, which takes about 10, maybe 15 minutes. Electric recharging is going to take *hours* per truck, so you’re going to have a very large stack of trucks and recharging stations required. Think of your recharging area requiring 8-12 times as much land and infrastructure as a liquid fuel depot: instead of 15 minutes per truck it’s two hours, minimum. Start small, that’s my advice. Not insuperable, just land, time, and money. Lots of money. In 20 years this will probably exist. And I’ll be dead.

If they logged out of Tesla's app (something there's no reason to do)

You’ve never had to reboot your phone?

But that incident got me thinking: why don’t house doors also unlock via Bluetooth instead of having to fiddle them with a key, which is what, at least a 500 year old technology?


It exists; try Amazon. My wife and I do not carry house keys; we have combination locks on all the exterior doors. A simple 4 digit code and we’re in. They have door locks that work with WiFi, Bluetooth, and (as we have) pushbutton locks. Simple replacement for existing door hardware, 9v battery lasts about a year. I have put them in our rental properties too, it’s a simple matter to change the combination after each tenant. I make the combination simple to remember, like “1941” (a date which will live in infamy, get it?) [1776, 2001 A Space Odyssey, 1929, 1066 (the battle of Hastings, perhaps a bit obscure), 1492, 2525 (Zager & Evans), etc.] Easy for the tenant to remember, I never get a call saying “I forget the combination.”
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But that incident got me thinking: why don’t house doors also unlock via Bluetooth instead of having to fiddle them with a key, which is what, at least a 500 year old technology?

It exists; try Amazon... . They have door locks that work with WiFi, Bluetooth, and (as we have) pushbutton locks.


Thanks for the info. Now I change the goalposts. Doors should not only unlock, but open and close themselves for you. Handsfree. No doorknob twist, no code punching, no fingerprint-reading. Because usually I am carrying stuff in both hands as I enter or exit. Handsfree is what I want.

Like when we walk into a store, the glass doors detect a human approaching and open for him handsfree, then close again handsfree. Combine that with the ability to securely ID 'him' and only let him pass if authorized.

With a pin punchcode on one door somewhere as backup in case power fails.
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Truck stops are designed to handle a dozen, perhaps two dozen trucks refueling with diesel, which takes about 10, maybe 15 minutes. Electric recharging is going to take *hours* per truck, so you’re going to have a very large stack of trucks and recharging stations required.

I don't think that the early AV trucks will be electric. They'll run on gas. Truck stops typically can accommodate scores of semis, sometimes more than a hundred (the ones I've worked on personally have had closer to two hundred spaces, but that's not going to be representative).

But again - I don't think that this is really an issue. Apart from the very densest urban metros (like the Bos-Wash corridor), there's usually a fair amount of land out at the periphery of the metro that could serve as a big ol' parking lot for big rigs to be handed off from autonomous mode to a driver. Whether you see existing truck stops retrofitted, or new parking fields developed, accommodating that hand-off will not be particularly difficult, if highway autonomy becomes a real thing before city-street autonomy.

But then at most Walmart has 3 bays, Target has two, Kroger has two, so these are independent drivers ferrying autonomous trucks from your not-yet-existing parking lots to various stores, a sort of “gig-economy” trucker for local delivery, I guess.

Could be - the same way that you have independent drivers *today*, but for much shorter runs. Or they might be employees of the transportation hub. Or employees of whoever owns the AV trucks. Or employees of the end users. Or employees of a third-party logistics company that isn't any of the above. It doesn't have to be 'gig'.

Albaby
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Doors should not only unlock, but open and close themselves for you. Handsfree.

They do on Star Trek. See how they accurately anticipated the needs of the future? :)
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I might be convinced to use combination locks, but I would never allow my home to have electronic locks that can be activated remotely. I have a "smart home". I can control lights and outlets, and the robot vacuum. There are devices available to do the garage door and the door locks, but I will not install either. If someone hacks into the servers they may be able to mess with my lights. Big deal. But to get into my home you'll have to go old-school. Which will work, of course. It's worked for centuries. Break down the door, pick the lock, smash a window (though two of those three things will set off the alarm instantly). But you won't be able to do it from a tablet or smartphone (or your PC).
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Replying to myself here because I am going to go on a(n investing) tangent:

I worked at some of the biggest boomer AM stations in America and I remember people “in the know” (ad agencies, etc.) telling me that AM was dead because, you know, FM. This was in the 80’s, a full decade after so-called underground and even Top 40 stations migrated to the better sounding band. Well, here it is only forty years later and they’re finally right.

I recall in the 90’s all the seers telling me that network TV was done because, of course, cable. 30 years later and the networks are still around. Not as dominant, maybe, but still making lots of money, and generally moving into cable programming ownership to boot.

Two examples of when the conventional wisdom had it right, except wrong.

I see that now with EV’s, particularly affecting petroleum stocks, which have become “unloved” in the market. Euphoria over electric trucks. Boo-hiss for big oil. Never mind that Chevron has a 4% dividend. Exxon 5%. Frances Total 6%. BP and Royal Dutch Shell 7%. Yeah, SEVEN percent.

Shares of most energy companies tumbled in August, including those of leading U.S. oil and gas producers ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR), and EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG). All three lost more than 10% of their value last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Fueling their sell-off was a combination of lower crude oil prices and lackluster second-quarter earnings reports.
https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/09/04/why-oil-stocks-got...

Are there some risks? Sure, but “self driving trucks” sure isn’t one of them, not anytime soon. Electric cars? No, not them either. Someday, not today.

Anybody think we’re going to stop burning hydrocarbons, even if Lizzie or Bernie get elected? Not bloody likely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor. My house has geothermal heating, I’m adding solar panels (both PV and hydrothermal) but seriously, we’re going to be employing a lot of truck drivers and burning a bunch of gas and oil for a long time to come.

20 years out, 30 years out, 40 years out? Probably different. This week, this month, next year, the decade after that? Burn baby burn.

Things that can be digitized can change pretty fast, only a decade or two: music, newspapers, legal forms. Cars and trucks? Nah gonna happen. I’m willing to bet that Mack and Navistar will be selling piston power for years and years.

That’s why I list all those objections, not that they can’t be overcome, just that they can’t be overcome *quickly*. There’s a lot of industry, infrastructure, historical metal on the roads, capital, and other impediments that push the horizon WAYYYY out there.

Remember flying cars and the paperless office predictions? Yeah, that too.
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<<Anybody think we’re going to stop burning hydrocarbons, even if Lizzie or Bernie get elected? Not bloody likely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor. My house has geothermal heating, I’m adding solar panels (both PV and hydrothermal) but seriously, we’re going to be employing a lot of truck drivers and burning a bunch of gas and oil for a long time to come.>>



We have been "running out of oil" for 160 years now. The stuff is still a glut on the market, often enough.

I am glad to continue holding my oil stocks for additional decades.




Seattle Pioneer
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On dividends to oil company stocks. I do think there is a risk based on the lawsuit model that activists want to use against gun companies and are successfully using against pharmaceutical companies for making opioids. Once all 50 states get their hit on Johnson and Johnson, what will be left of the company? Purdue pharma is likely heading to bankruptcy with the owners losing all their shares.

Unless oil companies are given the same protection from lawsuits that gun companies have through legislation and news media currently have through court cases (Sullivan case), I think the oil companies will go the way of pharmaceutical companies due to court cases.


c
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The larger truck stops around here can handle dozens of rigs (for parking). The refueling lanes are more limited...usually four lanes, I think.

Not all trucks would need to be charged there, however. If they are simply awaiting pick-up, they just wait for pick-up. At the final destination (e.g. Walmart) you could plug it in while you're unloading it. So not all spaces would need to be electrified, and not all trucks would need to be there for an hour or more charging.

I'm sure the cap/cover problem could be resolved. But it's usually the little details like that which prove to be the most challenging. For an EV I can think of a few ways to do it. For a diesel you need a tight cap (for spillage, and for vacuum within the fuel system), so it would be more difficult. Not intractable, but probably a lot more difficult than the mechanism that would extend the nozzle and pump the fuel. It might require a human attendant at the stop to get the cap off and then initiate the auto-fueling system, at least initially.

I would expect someone like Walmart or Costco would be the first to go this way. They'd arrange the contracts with the truck stops, take care of the logistics, and get it running on select routes for their specific locations. Locally maybe one of our grocery stores would do it (Basha's...they have a huge center at the junction of AZ202 and I10; their stores are only in AZ to my knowledge).
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Remember flying cars...

That was always a dumb idea.

...and the paperless office predictions?

Maybe not paperless, but a lot less paper than before. I used to get paper reports (and generate them, in fact). Today I get Word documents or PDFs that people generate from Word documents, all in my email. Reports are archived within a company system on servers (they use a system called Sharepoint). I have the option to print one out, but why bother?

Ultimately it's about money. We have most of the tech already, it's just a matter of implementation. If it's cheaper to do what we're discussing, then it will happen. Companies like Walmart are sociopathic, and their only concern is the bottom line.
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That’s why I list all those objections, not that they can’t be overcome, just that they can’t be overcome *quickly*.

Depends on what you mean by "quickly". Probably worth looking at what folks who actually know something about transportation logistics are doing.

WalMart for example will have pilot studies with autonomous vans making deliveries in Arkansas and has been running similar programs in Arizona and Miami.

UPS has been running self-driving trucks between Phoenix and Tucson for a few months. And Amazon has also been very quietly testing the technology. Daimler is putting its level4 tractor-trailer on public roads in Virgina.

Meanwhile "platooning" technology is moving along and will probably be the first step for the use of autonomous trucks in long-distance hauling. A human-driven lead truck can supervise a following self-driving truck thereby doubling the freight hauled by the driver. That seems like a pretty significant savings. Peloton is one company working on this in partnership with Fedex.

In other words, self-driving transport is being field-tested today by companies known for their logistical expertise. The tech seems to be advancing pretty quickly.

https://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2019/08/12/walmart-...
https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/15/20805994/ups-self-driving...
https://www.forbes.com/sites/pikeresearch/2019/08/21/peloton...
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GH: For instance, albaby talks about the truck stops which already exist. True. Unfortunately they already exist for the (ICE) trucks which are already on the road. If you want to have a “drop off” truck stop somewhere got EV trucks then you have to build it or convert it (which seems premature.) That is not “insuperable”, but it requires capital, equipment to make such (automatic) refueling possible, parking, some sort of method of compensation to the lot owner, contracts with trucking companies, etc. Again (and for the third time) none of that is “insuperable”, it just takes time. Not to mention that “self driving trucks” are in the pre-predevelopment stage themselves, perhaps comparable to the internet in 1992. Think CompuServe, not even AOL, much less broadband.


Why are you (and others) hung up on these "service stops" being limited to EV? The fleet of diesels is enormous, expensive, and veeerrrryyy durable. Will last for years. That's a huge capital investment to just ignore. Further, the diesel service facilities already exist. No need to break new ground. These facilities can be converted to serve autonomous diesel trucks on an ad hoc basis. Charging stations the same. Add them when there is a market. Electric trucks aren't just going to suddenly appear by the thousands. A transition will happen when EV trucks are ready for them.

CNC
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That’s why I list all those objections, not that they can’t be overcome, just that they can’t be overcome *quickly*. There’s a lot of industry, infrastructure, historical metal on the roads, capital, and other impediments that push the horizon WAYYYY out there.

I don't think that's going to push the horizon out there very much at all (though I agree with your comments about oil usage).

The time limiting factor the "autonomous" part - getting the brains and sensors advanced enough for the truck to actually be autonomous, safely. But once you get to that point technologically, all the other stuff isn't going to limit adoption as much as you suggest.

The "metal on the roads" part actually turns over pretty quickly. A long-haul semi- only has a useful life of about 10 years. They're much more durable than a private passenger car, but they're also driven much further than a private passenger car. Average age of a car in this country is about 12 years; average age of a semi- is less than 8. It's probably not far off to suggest that half the interstate trucking miles that get driven in six or seven years from now will be on trucks that haven't been built yet.

Most of the rest of the infrastructure is actually already well-adapted for autonomous (not necessarily electric) semis - because it's been designed for semis already. Most of the semis are going to places that are easy for semis to get to - distribution centers and warehouses that are close to interstate highway exits, in industrial parks engineered with the appropriate internal circulation and turning radii to allow easy access for those vehicles. Sure, there will be some older destinations that are more close-in to denser urban centers that pose more of a challenge - but for the most part, most of the infrastructure has already been designed in a way that semis face few challenges getting from the highway exit to the loading bay.

Once (or "if") the engineering boffins have economically solved the problem of giving these trucks adequate 'brains' and 'eyes' to function autonomously, penetration of AV tech into the trucking industries should happen very fast.
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{{ The fleet of diesels is enormous, expensive, and veeerrrryyy durable. Will last for years.}}

Especially older diesel engines are very durable. Recall the issue of "glider" trucks? These were new trucks without a new engine. Because the old engines would typically outlast the truck body, these old engines were being put into new truck bodies. But, because they were old engines, they only needed the pollution controls from when the engines were built.

EPA limited the number of glider trucks the manufacturer could produce per year.


c
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Once (or "if") the engineering boffins have economically solved the problem of giving these trucks adequate 'brains' and 'eyes' to function autonomously, penetration of AV tech into the trucking industries should happen very fast.

We can mostly do that already. City streets are the big challenge with traffic lights (or signs), cross-traffic, pedestrians, etc. Which is why I suspect the first thing we'll see is cross-country autonomous trucks that stop at a truck stop (or similar) to be picked up by a human driver for the last mile. I think the last mile is the hardest part because it can involve a variety of streets and roads with intersections and obstacles, and lots of decisions are necessary to navigate them. On freeways traffic is all going the same direction, there are seldom pedestrians, and while there is merging traffic it is unusual to have cross-traffic (maybe on some highways, but probably not on the interstates). I don't want to say "never", but that could take a long time to have autonomous vehicles working their way from the freeway to a store (or warehouse) deep inside a city without having a human present.

1poorguy
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btresist: Depends on what you mean by "quickly". Probably worth looking at what folks who actually know something about transportation logistics are doing.

WalMart for example will have pilot studies with autonomous vans making deliveries in Arkansas and has been running similar programs in Arizona and Miami.

UPS has been running self-driving trucks between Phoenix and Tucson for a few months. And Amazon has also been very quietly testing the technology. Daimler is putting its level4 tractor-trailer on public roads in Virgina.


Ar any of these programs using EV'S?

CNC
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If they logged out of Tesla's app (something there's no reason to do)

You’ve never had to reboot your phone?


Sure. But rebooting the phone doesn't log out of the Tesla app. It retains the token that authenticates you to the car.

-IGU-
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Ar any of these programs using EV'S?

Don't believe so. Someone has to commercially produce long-range EV trucks and cargo vans first. That is still a few years away, depending on how quickly Tesla can force the issue.

Daimler is road testing a heavy duty electric truck so they may be close to linking it with their autonomous system. https://cleantechnica.com/2019/08/13/heavy-duty-electric-tru...

There is at least one example in Europe. Volvo is using self-driving trucks on predefined public roads at low speeds. The trucks are monitored remotely. There are plans for other utilization, though again on simplified, predefined paths. Cool looking truck. https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/13/volvos-vera-autonomous-tr...

The technology is moving pretty quickly.
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. Doors should not only unlock, but open and close themselves for you. Handsfree. No doorknob twist, no code punching, no fingerprint-reading. Because usually I am carrying stuff in both hands as I enter or exit. Handsfree is what I want.

Amazon. Search “handicap doors”. About $600. Worth it to you?
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