Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-15-2019, 02:43 AM
SamuelA is offline
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,457
Originally Posted by Akaj View Post
Why would autonomous trains be more difficult than autonomous trucks? Trucks on the highway have far more variables to manage than trains on rails. Trains don't have other trains changing lanes in front of them. They don't even have to steer.
They aren't more difficult. But I make the following prediction:

There will be widespread, close to ubiquitous automated cars and trucks while most trains, ships, and airliners will still be piloted/crewed by humans.

Why am I making this prediction? Trains, ships, and airplanes actually all have simpler environments to operate in. While they are more technically complex to run than driving a car, present software is more than adequate to the task.

The reason is market scale. Driving is a very hard task to automate, and it's requiring the development of state of the art software that heavily uses machine learning.

How much is it going to cost in total? Let's say the cost is 100 billion dollars. GM is already in it 20 billion, or is it 40 now?

Planes, trains, and ships are easier, but the intricacies of operating fairly complex diesel locomotives and scanning the track ahead and reading old maps and dealing with faults is still a complex task. Ships require coordinated efforts between a whole crew and maintenance and repair, including at sea, of complex systems. Planes are similarly complex.

So it's going to cost a lot of money to automate all the elements of these tasks, especially in the planes and ships case. Lets say it's 5 times easier, and the cost is 20 billion.

That's why. There are very few ships and airliners in the world, while there are hundreds of millions of cars. You are splitting any potential revenue from savings on paying crew far fewer ways.
Old Yesterday, 12:46 PM
xnylder is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Posts: 1,055
A few people have mentioned secretaries, but more obsolete than that is the role of secretarial pool typist. My mother was one of these: Her sole task was taking oral dictation or hand-written notes from various employees and typing up the results for correspondence or official records. I suppose it made sense back in the day when typewriters were unforgiving and unwieldy. Nowadays a similar role only exists in specific fields like medical transcription, and even then speech-to-text software can perform the task.
Old Yesterday, 01:09 PM
msmith537 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 27,548
Originally Posted by campp View Post
Because a 12,000 foot long vehicle that weighs thousands of times what one truck does, all while going up and down hills, and because it can't stop really quickly.

Drone trucks? OK, let's see how that goes for a few years. Drone trains? I'm just positing it is quite a bit more difficult to control trains without continuous organic feedback.
I'm going to go with Akaj on this one. Just because a train is bigger and takes longer to stop doesn't make automating it any more complex. It's on rails that travel over known terrain between known switching points. It basically just needs to be told "stop", "go" and "how fast", with sensors adjusting for weather, track conditions, slope, etc.

An automated truck has to deal with all those things, plus maneuvering around random traffic and other obstacles all in real time.
Old Yesterday, 03:42 PM
carrps is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 673
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
There's at least one public building I know of which still has manual elevators, and actual elevator operators (who do more than just push buttons): the Fine Arts Building, in downtown Chicago.

But, yes, it's a job that's close enough to extinct to qualify as "completely eliminated."
When I worked at the Petroleum Building in downtown L.A. in the 1970s they still had manually-operated elevators. I tried googling to see if it's still true, but I couldn't find anything, so I assume they've been automated.

I also found out that the ground floor coffee shop has been converted to a rum bar. They had an awesome burger called the Canadian Burger, because it had a slice of Canadian bacon in it (the owners were French Canadian, but I don't know if that was significant). But I often ordered their Speedy Breakfast for lunch -- two eggs any style; choice of bacon (2 slices), sausage (2 links), ham slice or hamburger patty; cottage potatoes; choice of toast; and either coffee or oj .... for $1.06. And it was delicious.
Old Today, 04:37 PM
Damuri Ajashi is offline
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 20,321
Noone combs cotton by hand anymore. It used to consume huge amounts of labor.
Old Today, 05:59 PM
ticker is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: London
Posts: 2,054
Ruth Belville used to "sell" Greenwich Mean Time by setting her watch by the clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich daily, then touring around the city allowing her subscribers to set their own timepieces from hers. Nobody took up the role after she retired, possibly because by then the BBC's time signal was well established and radios had become ubiquitous.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017