SkyscraperCity banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
why worry?
Joined
·
918 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
In recent years the idea of autonomous vehicles has been covered extensively by the media and in some discussions of urban planning people have suggested that transit will become obsolete with the rise of Uber and similar car sharing services, and with the alleged development of autonomous technology, we will only be having more of a need for automobiles

I think this is a very dangerous way of thinking because it's under the assumption that autonomous vehicles will in fact take off (and I highly doubt that in our lifetimes we will have computers "smart" enough to interact with the analog world all on their own) and it's also under the assumption that problems such as congestion will be solved with autonomous vehicles, which is just not possible because there will still be cars utilizing the roads. Moreover, car-centric urban planning courtesy of North America has its social problems and not just ones with regards to environment and traffic congestion that the people who cheer on autonomous vehicles are supposed to alleviate.

Your thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,592 Posts
It is indeed an interesting question and one would think the answer would be yes but personally I think not because I don't think they will become very popular. They will have their niche market for the elderly and disabled but for the vast majority of car buyers out there, I think they will be avoided like the plague.

The autonomous vehicle proceeds from a false assumption...........people don't want to drive. The reality is people love to drive and the freedom that comes with it. We like running yellow lights, going faster than the speed limit, passing slow drivers, doing rolling stops at the stop sign, pulling "Ueys", dodging in and out of traffic, and stepping on the gas on the green light. In short people would find the enjoyment of driving being taken away from them and they would feel like they are sitting on the couch at grandma's house instead of behind the wheel.

Cars are also status symbols and much of that status will be diminished when everyone is going the same speed in what basically is the same car. What's the point of having a car with a lot of horsepower when you will never be able to use it? People pay vast amounts extra to buy that BMW even though it maybe not any better than the very highly rated new Chevy Malibu.

I think autonomous cars would create a more auto-centric development pattern if they were to become popular but I frankly don't think they ever will.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,345 Posts
My 5 cents on the topic of driverless cars and cities:

Safety
What if, since people like dangerous driving, we actually forbid all manual cars in cities or even entire countries? Just like cars without seatbelts and other safety features have been phased out for being unsafe. This would undoubtedly save lives. Especially with the sad new trend for terrorists to use cars as weapons in cities, such a drastic step just might be necessary.

Pedestrian interactions
From a different aspect, I'm not sure if driverless cars will be able to operate in an environment full of pedestrians. Currently it's all nice and fine to let a driverless car into traffic and expect pedestrians not to cross in its path, just like any other car. But sooner or later, with the number of driverless cars increasing, pedestrians will realize that driverless cars are foolproof and the computer will never brake late or in any other way lead to pedestrians being run over. With that, it will become commonplace for pedestrians to cross streets just wherever. Probably not directly in front of cars, but close enough that driverless cars will respond by slowing down and driving more cautiously which might even slow them down to pedestrian speeds.

Intersections
Regarding intersections, they always say that we will be able to get rid of traffic lights. But that won't be the case, because bikes and pedestrians will still need them. Unless you really do want a constant flow of pedestrians that bring traffic to a standstill. Though it will be possible to have less phases: there would be one all-direction phase for pedestrians and bicycles and one all-direction phase for driverless cars. No more distinction between different turns and so on.

Public transport
Automatization of transport will definitely be hard on public transport. A single taxi driver with all his salary and benefits costs basically the same as a single tram driver. But a taxi transports ~1–3 passengers while a tram has more than a hundred. When you get rid of the driver, the largest price decrease will be for the taxi and not the tram. This will mean a lot more driverless taxi users. The only way to prevent huge losses for transit and streets clogged with taxis would be regulation. For example, in Rīga taxi companies have to pay much more to the city if they want to offer service inside the old town. In similar fashion, dense areas in the future could be designated transit zones where taxis have to pay a large fee to operate, unless heading from outside the zone to one of its transit hubs.
 

·
***Alexxx***
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
I always thought about this, I made a thread called 'Will the age of the car return?'

A lot of anti road sentiment in the UK is due to pollution. But if you make things electric and automatic then maybe roads will make a grand return!
 

·
***Alexxx***
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
Cars are also status symbols and much of that status will be diminished when everyone is going the same speed in what basically is the same car. What's the point of having a car with a lot of horsepower when you will never be able to use it? People pay vast amounts extra to buy that BMW even though it maybe not any better than the very highly rated new Chevy Malibu.
This is why private cars which are not automatic will always be around. Maybe motorways could become driverless as they are 'special' roads but other than that it won't happen!
 

·
why worry?
Joined
·
918 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I always thought about this, I made a thread called 'Will the age of the car return?'

A lot of anti road sentiment in the UK is due to pollution. But if you make things electric and automatic then maybe roads will make a grand return!
But like I said, the problems with car-centric urban planning go beyond pollution. For one, the construction of roads themselves (along with sewages and watermains) is very costly and in and of itself damaging to the environment. Just take a look at what's happening in Houston right now; the flooding got so bad as it was because of how overbuilt it is. I also don't think a small island nation that is Britain can afford to have sprawl either
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
755 Posts
I'm very skeptical about Autonomous Vehicles (AV). I think the infrastructure investments required to make AV work will be a lot more than people realize.

I've also never once heard anything about how it will affect auto insurance policies which is going to the biggest headwind against AV IMO. Lets say your in an AV made by Google and you get in a car crash, who is responsible? I'd argue that Google is responsible since its their software driving the car. Auto manufacturers and the companies providing the AV software are going to face a lot of lawsuits and I wonder who is going to cover the cost of insurance. There are a lot of other liabilities AV manufacturers face that will slow their development.

I think AV are a great idea but I think we are 30-50 years away from where we will see them being in mainstream use. AV still isn't going to solve the traffic congestion problems many urban areas face and it will lose its efficiency when you have people who still prefer to drive their own cars.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
11,879 Posts
The popular saying during the American car boom (You build and they will come) will still hold true for AVs. However efficient our driving becomes the fact is that the size of the car and the width of the road are not going to see much of a change. The only difference will be that with AVs the same road can maybe, at the most optimistic estimate, handle 2x more cars per hour. The initial excitement will lead to a massive boom and pretty soon we will reach that '2x' number and find that the AVs are again crawling like the manual driven cars.

The only solution w.r.t. urban planning is to encourage mixed use development, reduce both the quantity and length of work trips by ensuring residences and work-places are as near to each other as possible, encourage transit oriented development and invest in comfortable and reliable last mile connectivity options.

Indeed I think the area which needs maximum research and investment is last mile connectivity and increasing the level of comfort in mass transit so as to attract the upper middle and high income groups.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BriedisUnIzlietne

·
Registered
Joined
·
899 Posts
There are a lot of good comments in this thread about autonomous vehicles. One of the biggest "detriments" to the future of AV's is indeed that a lot of people like to drive. So even if 25% of the population is still driving because they like to, full automation of roads will never happen and the huge potential increase in traffic flow wouldn't happen either. A few other points about AV's:
-Traffic impact is greatly overstated. How many cities are heavily reliant on taxi's and the traffic is terrible. Go to Midtown Manhattan any day. One has a driver and one doesn't but it's the same concept, you get picked up at one location and dropped off at another. Vehicle size probably doesn't change.
-How many people will trust their lives 100% to a computer?
-How easily can an AV be hacked into-it's already happened.
-Most roads that get additional capacity (currently widening) wind up being over capacity again a few years later. Will this be the same situation with no long term benefits
-Economics behind phasing out manual cars. 20 years from now there will still be people driving a car from 2015 b/c they don't want to or can't afford a new car and don't have viable public transit.

In short, I think it will happen in limited fashion and especially fixed course routes where individual people don't decide, like airport shuttles, but I don't think it will become the end all be all of the 21st century transportation.
 

·
Salad Days Are Here
Joined
·
3,642 Posts
As a person with disability, public transit doesn't get me everywhere and I have to turn down jobs simply on the fact that public transit won't get me there. But public transit does get me to a lot of places that I do need to get to and it is on this basis that transit will continue to thrive. What an autonomous vehicle will allow me to do is instead of having to hire a taxi, I can use the AV to get me there. But I have to expect that it will be more costly than taking a bus.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,592 Posts
As I stated earlier, I think they will have certain niche markets, for example, with the elderly and people with a disability. That is nothing but great news to give people who are not able to drive more alternatives. For the vast majority of people however, I don`t think it will be near the success many foresee it as being.

There are also a lot of unanswered questions. As noted above, how is insurance going to work? Good luck getting Microsoft to pay for any damages. Will people now have to take a driver`s test? Will young people under 16 now be able to drive? Will people now be able to use their autonomous vehicles if they are drunk or high?

There are just too many unanswered questions regarding both legal obligations and financial responsibilities to even begin to bring AVs on to the roads little alone get them accepted by a public that is dubious of their safety and very reluctant to give away that unique love-hate relationship they have with their cars.
 

·
We exist
U/C
Joined
·
2,575 Posts
I see in the Netherlands that people are very keen on doing vague innovations that seem to be hollow phrases and think that with that problems will be solved in the future. Provinces like Brabant are even so far they won't invest in public transport because it might get obsolete according to their biased opinions. Their opinions being influenced by big sums of money from the Automotive Campus in Helmond and other vague initiatives from the Eindhoven region.

But it won't solve the problem at all in the next 30 years and even then, I don't see public transportation disappearing. It only transforms local transport, but we will require big machines from one city to another (and busy districts) to keep road use efficient at all.

In fact we call such a thing a 'train', occasionally a 'metro', these things drive on rails so the big machine won't collide with these tiny tin cans and are already around there, only too few in some regions (whether you call Eindhoven or North America a region, both are correct). In fact it is the most brilliant idea that came to fruition in order to make transport more efficient.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,226 Posts
Luckily in Austria no one is stupid enough to kill off investments in important infrastructure because of some pipe dreams.

New technology can be a game changer but there is no point in getting into highly speculative bets. I also can't see how autonomous transportation could be such a radical game changer to make public transportation obsolete as it simply does not solve the space requirement dilemma of individual motorized traffic, not to a revolutionary extend at least.

The advantage of rails is of course that relatively big vehicles can run with relatively little wear. If you have autonomous busses on asphalt the wear is massive and causes the warping of the road surface unless it is all concrete plates with very solid underground below.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
755 Posts
I can really only speak for Hawaii since its where I live and work. None of the 4 counties (Honolulu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai) have made any planning decisions incorporating automated vehicles (AV). A lot of people are excited about the potential they could bring, but almost everyone expects AV to take a long time to come to market. The City & County of Honolulu made it known a year ago that even if AV come to market sooner than later, the county is committed to transit-oriented development and decreasing the overall number of cars island.

I think AV will be better for urbanism in the long-run because people will probably ditch owning a vehicle and opt for a subscription-based service from a company like Uber or Lyft. Take the human out of the equation and they could offer rides for very low-prices.

The one thing most pro-automated vehicle/anti-transit people don't realize is the costs of making cities able to work with AV. A lot of people assume AV will be able to work en masse on the current road systems we have, but actually cities will have to redevelop their road systems. My friend worked on a study regarding incorporating AV in the State of Hawaii and they found it would cost anywhere from $15b-$25b to make all the roads in the state compliant with current automated vehicle technology. Yes, one or two test vehicles can drive around the city without a problem, but the dynamic changes when you have 300k+ vehicles on the road. With current automated technology, governments are going to have to maintain the roads better and make sure street signage/lines are visible and properly maintained at all times (Hawaii is terrible when it comes to road maintenence). If AV do decrease auto-ownership rates and we see a decrease in gas used, this will be difficult for governments as they have a declining tax base while having to spend more money to improve/maintain the road system. It wouldn't surprise me if in the future we have urban areas with AV and some without as some municipal governments are unable to make their road systems AV compliant

A few of the questions/comments regarding automated vehicles (AV):

I also haven't heard much about the insurance problems AV will create. who is liable if a Google Car crashes? Google? The driver? Would drivers want to pay an insurance premium for a car they aren't driving?

What happens if your driving a vehicle in a big state like California or Texas and not all the municipalities have made the road upgrades to support your automated-vehicle? how does that play into the mix?

Will there be a centralized system for AV? Who will be running it? What happens if the system gets hacked and someone forces the several million cars to crash? Guys can already hack into airplanes, I don't see why they wouldn't attempt a terrorist stunt like this. What happens if a government makes changes to the traffic laws, will it be updated to the AV server instantly?

Most local police departments depend on traffic citations as a major funding source? If AV reduces Police department revenues how will governments react? I personally think there is going to be a lot of resistance from police over the introduction of AV.

What about people who like to drive or need to go off-road? What happens when there is a mix of real drivers and automated drivers? How does it change traffic?

Google Maps makes many mistakes for Honolulu navigation, often recommending drivers to make wrong turns on to one-way roads. How do we prevent automated vehicles from breaking traffic laws when the map system clearly doesn't recognize its mistakes? Google maps or whatever navigation system they use will have to be perfect or accidents will occur or lives will be lost.

Will the driver have to be at the wheel at all times or can he lounge in the back seat and work on his computer? If the driver has to be attentive at the wheel in an automated vehicle, it sort of defeats the whole point of owning one.

I have a lot more questions about automated vehicles but the ones I brought up above have left most AV advocates unable to answer. Until International and National standards are formed, the AV industry is a fantasy that will lack mainstream appeal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,226 Posts
Those are a lot of valid technical issues. I like to look at the broader picture. AV is IMHO vastly overrated in its impact on city planning. Let's say for the moment all the technical issues can be addressed, then we could see some moderate improvements, somewhat lower need for parking space mainly. Otherwise it still comes with the main drawbacks of todays cars. A city designed for AV struggles being pedestrian friendly just like one designed for cars. For two reasons, first of all the roads and parking lots need so much space but equally important because they catalyze a spread out development patterns we can see in edge cities and suburbia. To get pedestrian friendly environments one needs a mode of transport which catalyzes the formation of compact subcenters, and connects them. There is one mode of transit which does that very much so: public transportation.

I think the best results in terms of city planning could be achieved if one manages to integrate AV for suburbia with PT connecting subcenters of suburbia with the centre.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,904 Posts
I think it depends on what the motivation behind urban planning is. If it is just so that people can live without driving then I would think that the adoption of autonomous vehicles will encourage car-centric planning again given that it too would be offering an option to driving in the traditional sense.

However we have gone through something of an urban renaissance (by our standards) in Norway during the last decade or so too, and the reasons that have been cited in planning documents and by politicians for the desire to build urban is that we should our cities walkable rather than public transportation-able as such. This is turn is based on a desire to make more energy efficient cities and way of life, encourage people to walk in an effort to fight the large obesity problem we have here and to encourage social interaction as the society grows older and more and more people fall outside of established arenas of social interactions that we have like schools and workplaces. I don't think autonomous vehicles address any of that and as a result I am very skeptical it will have much impact here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,226 Posts
Being walkable and public transportation oriented goes hand in hand. Not because of intentions of politicians but because they both catalyze the same developments reinforcing themselves.

That is at least the case for cities of a certain size. For smaller cities of substantially less than 100 000 inhabitants or so, PT is less important and bikes are a much more important option.

Using PT automatically comes with walking a lot more than using the car. It is a sheer necessity. Of course, if you go the whole distance, you walk even more, but for that you need a compact urban design and according subcenters. To have that, you basically need a well developed PT supporting it.

That said, one should of course not only think about PT but about walkable design principles in detail as well. I think the Seestadt Aspern in Vienna is quite a nice example for that. It is designed that within the quarter walking is an efficient option for basically everything located there (and there is a shopping street, there are doctors, restaurants, parks, et) but if you need to go beyond there exists an efficient link to the subway network including feeder busses bringing also people from nearby suburban settlements into the quarter. AV doesn't seem very relevant in this regard, other than maybe being a feeder mode of transport in the car oriented suburbs.
 

·
Registered
物の哀れ
Joined
·
25,199 Posts
I doubt there will be a lot more urban expansion going on in several developed countries where population is falling or very close to decreasing.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top