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    WLB
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    Default Driverless cars

    A couple of things happened recently, which when considered together, gave me a disturbing glimpse of the future for people like some of us.

    The first was a radio segment that I heard by chance while driving home. They were talking about driverless cars and the guest on the show was a technology forecaster for the Commonwealth Bank, I think. The basic gist of his predictions went something like this:

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    The engineering and hardware for driverless cars is well established.
    The speed of data processing systems doubles every 2 to 4 years, while the cost halves.
    Therefore the technology required is advancing rapidly.
    He forecast that virtually all cars on Melbourne’s roads will be driverless by 2030.
    This will present massive problems for government if it doesn’t adapt early enough.
    Road maintenance costs are largely funded by fuel taxes.
    Driver’s licence fees are another source of revenue.
    Driverless cars will be electric, therefore petrol tax income will disappear.
    You don’t need a driver’s licence to be a passenger in a driverless car.
    In fact learning to drive will become a thing of the past.

    The second thing was a trip to Bunnings. I went looking for some kerosene for a weed burner I’ve bought. It’s called a flame gun and I hadn’t seen one for decades. It’s basically a giant version of the old plumber’s blowlamp that was used to heat soldering irons, but built like a flamethrower. A tank for the kero, a small hand-pump to pressurize the tank, and a burner head with a preheater coil in it.
    When I was a small kid, we had a kero heater in the kitchen. Dad kept a 4 gallon drum with a tap on it in the garage. That drum remained long after the heater was replaced and the kero was used to degrease things and clean paint brushes. (In fact is it better than turps for paint brushes). When the drum needed refilling, we simply went to the petrol station around the corner and refilled it from their kerosene bowser. (Remember them?)
    For decades now I have only ever bought kero in 2 litre bottles from a hardware shop. This obviously wasn’t going to do for the flame gun, so I went to Bunnings to see if they had it in a 20L drum. They did, and it was almost $80.
    So what’s the connection between driverless cars and flame guns? None, of course, but a disturbing inevitability suddenly occurred to me. 2030 isn’t really that far away, and the changes will be occurring long before then.
    If most cars don’t need petrol, then service stations will stock less of it. We’re already seeing some LPG bowsers removed and replaced by petrol or high-flow diesel pumps. Fewer cars on LPG these days. As the demand for petrol declines, the price will probably go up although initially it may go down due to global over-supply. But ultimately it will go up. Petrol will still be needed for small generators, mowers, chainsaws, brushcutters, etc., but many of these are becoming available with rechargeable batteries. Besides, when was the last time you saw a new house with a decent size lawn?

    I fear that the future for those of us who enjoy old cars will be occasional use only and buying petrol from Bunnings in 20L drums. Refuelling of the motor car will have come full circle.

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    I was at a Telstra technology conference last week in Melbourne (I now know why some phone bills are so outrageous) and one of the session speakers was Tim Reardon, NSW Secretary for Transport, who said a lot of the same stuff. Among it all he said driverless cars are a certainty and are closer than we think. He believes the push for them will actually be helped along by the need to reduce congestion rather than the safety aspect, although safety was a big factor. NSW Government is already quite worried about the tax loss from the increasingly economical vehicle fleet where they still do use diesel & petrol and the increase of hybrids and electrical cars as a percentage of the total fleet. Cost of road maintenance and provision of new roads is going up and fuel excise is going down. A recipe for economical disaster, especially when you need to cover the cost of making the roads technology friendly / receptive to the driverless cars. It struck me during his presentation that everyone with a passion for older vehicles (i.e. Froggers) would eventually have to pay more for rego and fuel as well as paying whatever new form of road user tax they come up with to compensate for the loss of other more traditional tax sources. Not an attractive proposition but I guess we will work it out. The other thought was what is going to happen to all the older vehicles that are now running around with owners who have no intention of maintaining them or restoring them like Froggers and similar enthusiasts. There is going to be a lot of vehicles going to the crusher and the value of second hand cars in general will plummet. Oh well, progress marches on. With or without us.
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    Of course there would be also the loss of revenue from traffic infringements which assume wouldn't occur with driverless cars.

    They are also making a number of assumptions that not be correct. Cheap electric cars may not necessarily be a reality even by 2030 and surely the revenue loss may be solved by simply increasing car registration fees. Doubling, tripling or whatever?

    I'm a bit of a sceptic when experts come out with these sort of predictions. I'm reminded of bygone predictions that with automation, etc, we would by now have short working weeks and therefore have much more leisure time. Who'd a thought that present day employers would merely decrease their number of employees to suit?

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    I also heard on the radio, ironically while driving home from the airport a month or so ago, that air travel costs will change. Traffic will flow better so your travelling time to the airport will be predictable. You will arrive in time to check in and catch your flight. No more getting there very early to avoid missing your flight. Current airport infrastructure costs are heavily subsidized by expensive retail shops and coffee lounges etc., for a captive market. They will largely disappear. The airport will become more like a railway station. You arrive on time, get on the train, and leave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WLB View Post
    A couple of things happened recently, which when considered together, gave me a disturbing glimpse of the future for people like some of us.

    The first was a radio segment that I heard by chance while driving home. They were talking about driverless cars and the guest on the show was a technology forecaster for the Commonwealth Bank, I think. The basic gist of his predictions went something like this:

    The engineering and hardware for driverless cars is well established.
    The speed of data processing systems doubles every 2 to 4 years, while the cost halves.
    Therefore the technology required is advancing rapidly.
    He forecast that virtually all cars on Melbourne’s roads will be driverless by 2030.
    This will present massive problems for government if it doesn’t adapt early enough.
    Road maintenance costs are largely funded by fuel taxes.
    Driver’s licence fees are another source of revenue.
    Driverless cars will be electric, therefore petrol tax income will disappear.
    You don’t need a driver’s licence to be a passenger in a driverless car.
    In fact learning to drive will become a thing of the past.

    The second thing was a trip to Bunnings. I went looking for some kerosene for a weed burner I’ve bought. It’s called a flame gun and I hadn’t seen one for decades. It’s basically a giant version of the old plumber’s blowlamp that was used to heat soldering irons, but built like a flamethrower. A tank for the kero, a small hand-pump to pressurize the tank, and a burner head with a preheater coil in it.
    When I was a small kid, we had a kero heater in the kitchen. Dad kept a 4 gallon drum with a tap on it in the garage. That drum remained long after the heater was replaced and the kero was used to degrease things and clean paint brushes. (In fact is it better than turps for paint brushes). When the drum needed refilling, we simply went to the petrol station around the corner and refilled it from their kerosene bowser. (Remember them?)
    For decades now I have only ever bought kero in 2 litre bottles from a hardware shop. This obviously wasn’t going to do for the flame gun, so I went to Bunnings to see if they had it in a 20L drum. They did, and it was almost $80.
    So what’s the connection between driverless cars and flame guns? None, of course, but a disturbing inevitability suddenly occurred to me. 2030 isn’t really that far away, and the changes will be occurring long before then.
    If most cars don’t need petrol, then service stations will stock less of it. We’re already seeing some LPG bowsers removed and replaced by petrol or high-flow diesel pumps. Fewer cars on LPG these days. As the demand for petrol declines, the price will probably go up although initially it may go down due to global over-supply. But ultimately it will go up. Petrol will still be needed for small generators, mowers, chainsaws, brushcutters, etc., but many of these are becoming available with rechargeable batteries. Besides, when was the last time you saw a new house with a decent size lawn?

    I fear that the future for those of us who enjoy old cars will be occasional use only and buying petrol from Bunnings in 20L drums. Refuelling of the motor car will have come full circle.
    Prognostications of the future are still regarded by mainstream pundits with all the respect they give Haruspicy. In the same way Jules Verne predicted some future machines and events, his details of how they were going to work or how/when they would happen were very much generalised. The predictions of the people involved in your story I think would rank highly along with the predictions of Nostrodamus and other less famous medicine men and bone and entrail fanciers......
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Call me a Trekkie or a tech-head but I can relate to this all happening more quickly than people may like. Driverless cars are already here and would have been even sooner if not for the tech needed to share the road with driven cars. Economics will drive all change. People will stop driving when it's too expensive.

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    The reality is that it is hard enough to stay on the road when you are behind the wheel and from what i've read there have been numerous "mishaps" with driverless cars;personally i wouldn't feel safe if on automatic

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    Re the cost of building roads...
    it may be true in some technical sense that fuel taxes fund road building, but in reality, they are just funded by taxes. After all, fuel tax and the GST are collected by the Federal Gov, which rebates money to the States, which do whatever they like with it. So if less of your money is collected from fuel sales, then you will have more to be collected in some other way. All said, there is more available wealth in total, particularly if we, collectively, arent spending it on imported fuels, so the exact way the cost of funding road building is extracted isnt really important.

    Re most cars on the road will be self driving, by 2030.
    ... only if you force people to use them. loads of people will still prefer to drive at least some of the time, as driving is frequently pleasurable. of course, the Cromwells of the world, and their loyal Roundheads, will be out there trying to force everyone to not drive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alhantos View Post
    The reality is that it is hard enough to stay on the road when you are behind the wheel and from what i've read there have been numerous "mishaps" with driverless cars;personally i wouldn't feel safe if on automatic
    Personally, I'd trust technology. With my watchful eye on the other manually driven vehicles, in preference to driving amongst the drug addled morons and incompetents I witness everyday when driving.

    A guidance system has no way to have a "bad attitude" nor suffer "road rage" nor "be in a hurry" to go from A to B. And is definitely not consuming Ice or drugs.

    The biggest issue I can see is the days when manually driven vehicles are on the road with autonomously guided vehicles . Guidance systems may not process illogical responses particularly well.

    Like or lump it the technology is on it's way into motor vehicles and is perfectly mature and reliable albeit in other areas of transport.

    I say bring it on...
    Last edited by robmac; 26th September 2016 at 10:48 AM.
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    The manufacturers are pushing driverless cars.
    How easy would it be to unload and load ships bringing the cars to our shores
    Want a test "SIT" in a car? Would arrive at your door and off you go for a test "SIT"

    Petrol will be gone, No need for lawn mowers, chainsaws, brush cutters. All battery powered.
    Have a look at Bunnings already
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    Although I enjoy driving the notion of eventually being able to relax and engage in carefree conversation with other passengers appeals.

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    The future is scary, could be worse I suppose, it could be full of flying DS's.

    My worry is that computers are unreliable, as a motor wrecker the most popular selling items are computers. In cars they fail all the time and I'm concerned about putting one in charge of our lives. I know aircraft use them but they have 3 or 4 back ups and finally a human (pilot) ready to take over. With cars there talking about people who never learn to drive.

    Agree with Robmac about taking all the idiots off the road and I welcome that, I welcome giving blind people the same mobility as us but accidents will still happen and you can't put a computer in jail.

    Today people with advanced driving skills will react quicker than the computers, Highway patrol officers for example get themselves in trouble because they react quicker than the tration control system fitted to modern cars and of course there not allowed to turn it off.

    I can still see nose to tails happening because of the reaction times, computers would be quicker than most drivers but it'll still happen and who's at fault? The computer, the person in the car or the geek that programed it.

    Personally I love driving and would hate to give it up but by 2030 I'll be 70 so who cares.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Cavanagh View Post
    ... Personally I love driving and would hate to give it up but by 2030 I'll be 70 so who cares.
    David, I think you'll have a different opinion as it draws closer.
    70 is just over 3 years away for me. Dad didn't stop driving his 504 until he was 95. But he was a young 95.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WLB View Post
    David, I think you'll have a different opinion as it draws closer.
    70 is just over 3 years away for me. Dad didn't stop driving his 504 until he was 95. But he was a young 95.
    My Dad stopped driving at 77 when he had his stroke but I remember the young bloke from the next street complaining he couldn't keep up with him on roundabouts when Dad was in his R10 and he was in his V8 ute. That's how I want to be remembered.
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    What most people seem to overlook is the demonstrated inability of driverless cars to cope with dirt roads. I don't think I'll be offering to ride in an autonomous vehicle ever whilst we can still drop bombs on the wrong convoy and constantly suffer "friendly" fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    What most people seem to overlook is the demonstrated inability of driverless cars to cope with dirt roads. I don't think I'll be offering to ride in an autonomous vehicle ever whilst we can still drop bombs on the wrong convoy and constantly suffer "friendly" fire.
    I think RAIDs will be around for quite a while. In fact Daffy Duck may become much more valuable as it becomes one of the few cars that likes dirt roads and one of the few which will go where driverless cars won't. I don't know how well driverless cars will take creek crossings. Water and electricity don't mix very well. Quite possibly, the designers of driverless cars may have no concept of how to cross a creek or traverse, say, Forbes during this time of floods (not that I am suggesting many "drivers" currently have that knowledge).

    Quite a few Raiders are in their seventies, which is not surprising as it appeals to people that never grow up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WLB View Post
    Not Victorian roads, or Australian roads.
    Good of you to point that out!

    I remember in the fifties and sixties countless prognostications regarding "Flying Cars" helping to unclutter the streets of the worlds' Metropoli. Wonder why they didn't take off?
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    What most people seem to overlook is the demonstrated inability of driverless cars to cope with dirt roads. I don't think I'll be offering to ride in an autonomous vehicle ever whilst we can still drop bombs on the wrong convoy and constantly suffer "friendly" fire.
    I guess it will depend how well the "dirt roads" have been surveyed/ classified for driver less vehicles.

    I'd also point out my GPS navigates on public, passable, dirt roads seamlessly as if they were bitumen roads.

    And the practicalities of dropping bombs and containing weapons fire is some what more exacting and different to directing a vehicle down a fixed route road.

    But as a highly qualified armourer you, doubtless, know that already
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    Good of you to point that out!

    I remember in the fifties and sixties countless prognostications regarding "Flying Cars" helping to unclutter the streets of the worlds' Metropoli. Wonder why they didn't take off?
    Because Citroen stopped making DS's
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    Good of you to point that out!

    I remember in the fifties and sixties countless prognostications regarding "Flying Cars" helping to unclutter the streets of the worlds' Metropoli. Wonder why they didn't take off?

    They were probably the same publications that predicted we would all have private jet packs too.
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    I remember in the fifties and sixties countless prognostications regarding "Flying Cars" helping to unclutter the streets of the worlds' Metropoli. Wonder why they didn't take off?
    'Flying cars" possibly not. But "flying busses" have taken off. Just observe the online cut price airlines that now take you interstate at very low cost fares, in many cases less than the fuel to drive a vehicle to the destination yourself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Cavanagh View Post
    Today people with advanced driving skills will react quicker than the computers, Highway patrol officers for example get themselves in trouble because they react quicker than the tration control system fitted to modern cars and of course there not allowed to turn it off.

    I can still see nose to tails happening because of the reaction times, computers would be quicker than most drivers but it'll still happen and who's at fault? The computer, the person in the car or the geek that programed it.
    There is a big difference between whats currently in cars and what they're proposing for "hands off" driverless technology, a skilled driver can anticipate well ahead of traction control kicking in. But the driverless cars of the future will be looking ahead and anticipating from much more information than a human driver has, just looking in all directions at once to avoid incoming t-bones and lane changes into other vehicles for instance. Next is adding in radars and infrared vision that can see through fog, cameras that arent dazzled by oncoming lights, etc. Its the point when the computers with all these sensors become better than skilled drivers that we can all relax, the current Tesla autopilot has proven to be lacking in ability and it'll be many years before safe autonomous cars are available from the local dealer.

    How much risk the computers will take with the occupants or other peoples lives is currently under debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    What most people seem to overlook is the demonstrated inability of driverless cars to cope with dirt roads. I don't think I'll be offering to ride in an autonomous vehicle ever whilst we can still drop bombs on the wrong convoy and constantly suffer "friendly" fire.
    I guess it will depend how well the "dirt roads" have been surveyed/ classified for driver less vehicles.

    I'd also point out my GPS navigates on public, passable, dirt roads seamlessly as if they were bitumen roads.

    And the practicalities of dropping bombs and containing weapons fire is some what more exacting and different to directing a vehicle down a fixed route road.
    Dirt roads are still a problem for autonomous vehicles to travel at speed along, all the surveying in the world wont help the challenges of keeping up on the camber of a greasy wet clay road. Experienced drivers have become adept at seeing all the little details in the road ahead so they can avoid the pot holes or slippery puddles while still keeping the vehicle going in the right direction (not always keeping traction).

    The reality is autonomous cars will drive slower and more carefully than human drivers. You get the benefits of being able to do something else instead of concentrating on driving, but uptake wont be high unless the government introduces exclusive lanes or roads for the autonomous cars where they can then do silly things like form trains with almost no gap between the cars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    'Flying cars" possibly not. But "flying busses" have taken off. Just observe the online cut price airlines that now take you interstate at very low cost fares, in many cases less than the fuel to drive a vehicle to the destination yourself.
    I'll catch the very next "Flying Bus" to work in Port Melbourne immediately after the next flying pig goes past my door........
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I guess it will depend how well the "dirt roads" have been surveyed/ classified for driver less vehicles.

    I'd also point out my GPS navigates on public, passable, dirt roads seamlessly as if they were bitumen roads.

    And the practicalities of dropping bombs and containing weapons fire is some what more exacting and different to directing a vehicle down a fixed route road.

    But as a highly qualified armourer you, doubtless, know that already
    It is in fact a lot more difficult to autonomously navigate a vehicle than it is to drop a load of bombs or direct artillery fire, or we would have all been chauffered by a black box for the last half of the previous century..........

    I also call you out on GPS navigation accuracy on dirt roads passing through a forest. From personal experience it is possible to lose the GPS signal for extended periods under the forest canopy. Although what fun there would be in sitting in a dead boring autonomous vehicle driving through a forest at pedestrian speeds I can't imagine.......
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Never mind loosing the GPS signal on dirt tracks. What about multi level car parks and GPS signals. I have driven out of inner City car parks in Brisbane and it has taken what seemed like an eternity to get GPS signal after exiting the park house and driving in between numerous highrise buildings. At times, you don't have to go far to have issues with the GPS signal

    What about heavy rain, are GPS signal subject to drop outs like satelite TV signal is?
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