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Old 09-21-2018, 04:29 PM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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Is private car ownership about to disappear?

One thing I realized. It's been talked about for a while, and most car companies working on autonomy have discussed this "shift".

Simply put, the economics mean that manufacturers have no reason to sell you autonomous cars for affordable prices at all. Why sell them when they can rent them to you by the mile or the month? And the liability involved means they can't really sell them without you paying a software upgrade, maintenance, and vehicle replacement monthly fee...basically a lease.

I am aware that Tesla is still talking about this, and selling Model 3s that allegedly have this capacity, but the math just doesn't check out.

Look at all the middlemen it eliminates :

Car dealers. Factory storage lots. Car Financing banks. Car Insurance companies. Most car advertising - no need to sex up a car so you will make a 40k purchase, you can just enjoy a nice car by the mile. Most of the gasoline sales will disappear : it makes sense for some of these vehicles to be hybrids that do burn some gas but they would only use gasoline doing long runs across big cities and between cities.

Middlemen remaining : mechanics, and a few centrally operated refueling/recharging stations per city. Probably 5-10% of the total gas stations and mechanics that we have now, since the manufacturer pays for repairs, they will design them to be cheaper to service and less likely to break. I don't think these service/refueling/recharging/cleaning centers will be manufacturer owned because it's more efficient to have them serve all brands.

This arrangement is the most efficient, and in a competitive marketplace where riders are choosing what to ride by the cost per mile and perceived safety ratings, only the manufacturers who collect all of the profits for themselves can compete.

And like I said, think about the liability involved. An autonomous car :

a. Won't have manual controls, those are an accident about to happen
b. Will need daily sensor cleaning and an inspection by a certified mechanic
c. Will need frequent software updates, probably also daily
d. Once the electronics and sensors inside are 3-5 years old, at the latest, the manufacturer is going to want to "deprecate" them and either renovate or scrap all the cars using them in favor of newer, safer designs. They will not want to support the software on any cars that do not have recent compute systems - that just means extra accidents they will have to pay for, and extra programming effort.
e. Will probably cost more than 50k in materials and assembly costs

So the wealthy will probably lease them. They will have a luxury autonomous cars always waiting for them in their driveway. It probably won't even be the same one, a sensible thing to do would be to have the cars wait on their lease-holder in shifts.

Everyone else will either cling to their existing cars or have to start leasing by the mile.

Last edited by SamuelA; 09-21-2018 at 04:30 PM.
  #2  
Old 09-21-2018, 04:37 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Everyone else will either cling to their existing cars
Which casts the phrase "about to disappear" in a rather different light. Even if autonomous cars were introduced right now, which they won't be, and even if manufacture of non-autonomous cars shut down entirely within five years of the introduction of autonomous ones, which it won't, there would still be a huge fleet of non-autonomous cars in operation for at least the next quarter-century.

Personally, I'm so far ahead of the curve that I've never owned a car at all, and I don't mind how soon the rest of the driving public catches up with me. But it is not going to happen soon.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:42 PM
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You'll have to pry my fleet of old, dumb internal combustion cars and bikes from my cold, dead hands.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:47 PM
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This op appears to be inherently stupid. There is no way an overwhelming majority of the world is ready to lease/rent cars. Also self driving cars are still not that close. Maybe have this conversation in another decade.
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:49 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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I refuse to lease by the mile. I like owning things, and I don't like the idea of sitting in somebody else's puke.

Count me among the clingers.

I'm quite confident the manufacturers will find some way to shift the liability. Oh, and I don't believe for one tiny instant that a city's entire automotive fleet will all have its sensors manually inspected every day, even if they are owned by a central authority. Can't happen. Which means that such inspections won't be necessary, which means that I'll be able to have one of these cars in my garage not being inspected just like the rest of them.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:18 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I don't know enough to have a real opinion about the entire topic, but daily maintenance inspections of individuals' cars are not going to happen. I don't say that's good or bad, just not going to happen.
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:31 PM
filmstar-en filmstar-en is offline
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There are plenty of carpooling companies out there trying to apply the 'sharing economy' model to car hire as AirB&B does for holiday rentals. I don't doubt that they will satisfy the occasional need for a car for people who live in cities where car ownership is increasingly unattractive. But out in the suburbs that proposition is far less attractive. We will see how far that business model goes.

Autonomous cars are another matter. The technology is over hyped and I doubt whether it will be practical in an urban environment for many years. Maybe convoys of trucks or delivery vehicles on fixed routes running in straight lines. Maybe some passenger shuttles moving people around airports or other controlled areas. It will be unglamorous.

Call an autonomous car to drive you home when you are drunk? Dream on!
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:43 PM
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There will always be a need for vehicles that do things that autonomous vehicles (AVs) cannot and vehicles that go places AVs cannot. Off-road vehicles are the obvious example. But I do think that AVs will, in time, become safe and cheap. And at that point it will no longer make sense for most people to own a car. You book a car and one turns up outside your door and it takes you where you want to go. As the cars people own age out, they will not be replaced and the AV will become ubiquitous.

When will that be? Perhaps 40 years.
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:53 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
There will always be a need for vehicles that do things that autonomous vehicles (AVs) cannot and vehicles that go places AVs cannot. Off-road vehicles are the obvious example. But I do think that AVs will, in time, become safe and cheap. And at that point it will no longer make sense for most people to own a car. You book a car and one turns up outside your door and it takes you where you want to go. As the cars people own age out, they will not be replaced and the AV will become ubiquitous.

When will that be? Perhaps 40 years.
I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time". Myself I totally want to own a self-driving car, but it makes no sense whatsoever that I would eschew car ownership in favor of being able to pay extra money to wait extra time for a still-warm-from-somebody-else's-farts taxi to eventually appear before me.
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:08 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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Lots of people view their car as a private space and would react to the idea of only having leased cars the same way they'd feel about only living in hotel rooms.

Having said that, yeah I'm sure that business model will pick up. Supposedly electric cars last a long time, and most cars sit idle most of the time.

But the problem is, when cars are on the road they're all on the road at the same time. Many people go to work in the 6-9am region, then go home at the 3-6pm time period. So the number of cars you need relative to the population may not change unless mass carpooling picks up (which I could see, some kind of app to build carpools among people who live and work close together).

But again, lots of people will happily pay more for their own car rather than have a car that constantly changes or have to carpool.
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:27 PM
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If all the cars are autonomous, how can you brag about your Honor Student or make the guy behind you mad with your political views?

It'll never fly, Orville.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:30 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time". Myself I totally want to own a self-driving car, but it makes no sense whatsoever that I would eschew car ownership in favor of being able to pay extra money to wait extra time for a still-warm-from-somebody-else's-farts taxi to eventually appear before me.
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Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Lots of people view their car as a private space and would react to the idea of only having leased cars the same way they'd feel about only living in hotel rooms.

Having said that, yeah I'm sure that business model will pick up. Supposedly electric cars last a long time, and most cars sit idle most of the time.

But the problem is, when cars are on the road they're all on the road at the same time. Many people go to work in the 6-9am region, then go home at the 3-6pm time period. So the number of cars you need relative to the population may not change unless mass carpooling picks up (which I could see, some kind of app to build carpools among people who live and work close together).

But again, lots of people will happily pay more for their own car rather than have a car that constantly changes or have to carpool.
If you thought demand-pricing was bad now...

Looking at the OP... I get the feeling that if it needs daily inspection by a certified mechanic, it will not be put on the road. At most it would be programmed to head for the shop or limp to a safe parking spot upon a particular diagnostic code being detected, and to phone home every night for backup and to report the day's data, but daily inspections? The car companies don't want that.They want high reliability.

As mentioned, and unless for the autonomous luxury ride it becomes as cost-prohibitive as for an airplane, the better-off are going to want exclusive ownership. Because at the very least they want it right there, right now, not have to wait 20 minutes for dispatch, nor worry whose ass was on the seat last. And for all we know the autonomous vehicle, if and when fully perfected enough, need not be absurdly prohibitive in cost of ownership.

BTW, sure, you get to have periodic updates/upgrades to your computer and your smartphone. And some of the software is by paid subscription and you don't "own" it. But the industry has largely not adopted a business model of making you pay through the nose to even switch the thing on. Oh, sure, Apple's walled garden has a steep entry fee, but meanwhile Lenovo sells notebooks for under $500, and neither Apple nor MS charge you for updates for your OS version for howevermany years it stays supported. Adobe made Photoshop a subscription service, but Corel will sell you an equally useful (for 9/10 of the public) Paint Shop Pro for 90 bucks, once and done.

Sure, there will also be a segment of robo-carshares finally eliminating the trade of cab/livery/Uber driver, for the people who do not need regular access to one particular vehicle. But that does not make up the whole population.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 09-21-2018 at 08:32 PM.
  #13  
Old 09-21-2018, 10:03 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time". Myself I totally want to own a self-driving car, but it makes no sense whatsoever that I would eschew car ownership in favor of being able to pay extra money to wait extra time for a still-warm-from-somebody-else's-farts taxi to eventually appear before me.
The subscription model for transportation, especially for commuter rideshare applications is fairly obvious. Although it may seem like a problem that people are commuting in a relatively narrow window of time, if we assume that the future of commuter automotive is in battery electric vehicles (which every major automotive manufacturer is working toward) this actually means that the commuter vehicles can have a scheduled recharge time in midday when solar electric power is at its peak. And the convenience of having a personal vehicle waiting is offset by sharing the costs and not having to pay for parking, which at least in urban areas has become a significant expense and will probably become moreso as real estate prices continue to rise. The costs of autonomously piloted vehicles are likely to be substantially greater than current manually operated vehicles, and will require a comprehensive suit of LIDAR and other sensors instead of just relying on video for at least the foreseeable future. Ownership of a personal autonomous vehicle may be out of reach for the average worker, but paying a subscription service for commuter rideshare and an expected number of weekly miles, analogous to how we pay for cellular plans, seems pretty obvious. The other option is a cost-share model where you either buy a piece of a car, or buy a car but lend it out to a service which uses it to taxi other people and deliver packages and groceries like Uber and Lyft do now, except not requiring you to operate the vehicle.

All of this assumes a continued trend of urban densification, which at least is occuring in the US Eastern Seaboard and cities like Chicago, Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco, as well as Western Europe and Asia, combined with a continued need for daily commuting (we keep being told that telecommuting is going to eliminate the need for the daily commute, but for the bulk of workers this still isn’t true and will likely remain so until automation eliminates those jobs completely), and of course, is dependent upon autonomous vehicles becoming a viable and reliable service, which I think is further off than the more optimistic estimates assume. I don’t think we’ll see fully autonomous vehicles operating on public roads beyond just an experiemental or very limited capacity for at least a decade, and likely verging on twenty years. However, once they do, licensing and insurance costs will quite probably drive individual car owners off the road as insurance companies and municipalities discover that autonomously piloted vehicles result in far fewer accidents and fatalities.

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If all the cars are autonomous, how can you brag about your Honor Student or make the guy behind you mad with your political views?
That’s what social media is for, allowing you to display your ignorance and offend masses of people from the convenience if your couch. Bumper stickers are so 20th Century!

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  #14  
Old 09-21-2018, 10:23 PM
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Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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We already have low-cost ridesharing (Uber, etc.) and subscription rental (pay by the month and get access to a fleet of cars) services, but they haven't yet destroyed the private ownership market.

Your argument seems predicated on autonomous driving being really expensive. I dispute this claim; I think it'll be essentially free not long after it first appears. It's just cameras and computing power, both of which are cheap and getting cheaper. Software is expensive to develop but free to deploy.

What could happen, I suppose, is that as alternative services get more popular, fewer people will decide to buy. And this may lead to a death spiral for private vehicles, where they get more expensive year by year (high development costs supported by fewer buyers), making alternatives even more popular. Could happen but it's not obvious that it will--it depends on a lot of factors, such as the rate of urbanization and whether middle class income continues to have lackluster growth.

Personally, I like having a car that doesn't smell like other people's farts. There's an inherent giant negative to shared vehicles. Sure, there's some price difference where I'd put up with even this, but it's pretty high, and I imagine it's high for a lot of other people as well. A shared vehicle is worse than even apartment living; at least there you have your own place for months/years at a time and have some freedom to make it yours.
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Old 09-21-2018, 11:10 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Your argument seems predicated on autonomous driving being really expensive. I dispute this claim; I think it'll be essentially free not long after it first appears. It's just cameras and computing power, both of which are cheap and getting cheaper. Software is expensive to develop but free to deploy.
Except it's not just "cameras and computing power"; one of the biggest hurdles for autonomous piloted vehicles is actually forming a coherent model of the local environment, and at least for the foreseeable future computer vision systems are nowhere good enough to do that with a high degree of reliability, as seen by the Uber fatality in Tempe and the multiple failures and reported problems with Tesla's Autopilot. Autonomous piloting systems are going to require LIDAR or another system that can perform active rangefinding, and there is inherent cost there.

However, that isn't the real cost driver; the public at large is going to insist on high reliability in collision and other accident avoidance because of the perception of the dangers of non-autonomous vehicles, and by the time there is general acceptance I except that they will have an accident rate per operating hour that is several orders of magnitude better than a human driver. And that is what will make it prohibitive for the average private person to own a vehicle; the liability cost of an accident will increase as autonomous piloting systems demonstrate vastly lower rates of damage and fatalities.

There will still be wealthy private owners that insist on having their personal vehicle, and of course applications where some degree of manual control is necessary, such as emergency vehicles, construction and off-road applications, et cetera, but despite this desire to own "a car that doesn't smell like other people's farts", the costs of car ownership, particularly in densified urban areas, will just not seem worth it for most people, just as most people who live in Manhattan today do not own cars because of the cost and inconvenience, instead using taxis and public transit which frankly smells worse than a few gaseous bodily emissions.

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Last edited by Stranger On A Train; 09-21-2018 at 11:10 PM.
  #16  
Old 09-21-2018, 11:38 PM
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Personally, I can't wait to get rid of the car and be able to summon a self-driving car any time, anywhere. I will never again need to drive around looking for parking space. No more taking time off work to take the car to the shop. No more unplanned expenses for car repair. And I really could use the garage/driveway space currently occupied by our two cars.

Have you really looked at the money you spend on your cars? Not just gas, but also car loan payments (or depreciation), repairs, accessories, time spent maintaining the car, insurance, registration, cost of your parking space (how much of your mortgage payment is for your driveway and garage?), time spent shopping for a new car, etc. Add that all up, and you are likely paying between $0.60 and $1.00 per mile. So if Uber/Lyft could cut their cost 50% by getting rid of the driver, it would be cheaper to use it than to own a car.

Last edited by scr4; 09-21-2018 at 11:40 PM.
  #17  
Old 09-21-2018, 11:46 PM
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Except it's not just "cameras and computing power"; one of the biggest hurdles for autonomous piloted vehicles is actually forming a coherent model of the local environment, and at least for the foreseeable future computer vision systems are nowhere good enough to do that with a high degree of reliability, as seen by the Uber fatality in Tempe and the multiple failures and reported problems with Tesla's Autopilot. Autonomous piloting systems are going to require LIDAR or another system that can perform active rangefinding, and there is inherent cost there.
I'm doubtful about LIDAR (humans don't need it), and in any case solid-state LIDAR is coming soon and will drive the cost down to hundreds of dollars. Even with Moore's law coming to an end, we will see significant improvements in specialized processing hardware for years to come.

It's mostly a software problem. And obviously I don't want want to downplay that (it's not just an unsolved problem, but it's unknown if the current approach will even lead to a solution), but the point is that it only has to be developed once. The actual information density of the "coherent model" is incredibly low. There's very little reason to believe that more than a couple additional orders of magnitude of processing power are necessary, and that will be essentially free within several years.

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However, that isn't the real cost driver; the public at large is going to insist on high reliability in collision and other accident avoidance because of the perception of the dangers of non-autonomous vehicles, and by the time there is general acceptance I except that they will have an accident rate per operating hour that is several orders of magnitude better than a human driver.
Sure. Vehicles won't be sold without autonomy. And even cars with a "manual mode" will still have their anti-collision systems on all the time. It won't be possible to rear-end someone, run a red light, etc. (sure, some cars will have a geo-fenced track/off-road mode). But since autonomy will only cost marginally more than existing ABS/AEB/etc. systems, it won't really exert any market pressure in any direction.
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Old 09-22-2018, 05:53 AM
DragonAsh DragonAsh is offline
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Not too long ago the idea that people wouldn't own a land-line phone was ridiculous. Anyone suggesting as such would have been called 'inherently stupid'.

I haven't had a land line in over 10 years. I don't think I've made a call to a person on their landline in almost as long. Even my mom gave up a landline 5 years ago and went smartphone-only.

When i was living in downtown Tokyo/New York/Hong Kong/London I didn't own a car. No need; public transportation was more than sufficient, and we'd rent a car for longer trips.
I now live just outside central Tokyo proper (about 20 minutes outside Shinjuku). We have a car, but we are seriously considering giving it up, because there are three car sharing lots within walking distance.
We don't drive that far on a day-to-day basis, so the modest convenience of having a car right in the driveway is offset by the insurance, regularly scheduled maintenance and other ad-hoc maintenance needs.
Not to mention the cost of the car itself - we paid cash, so no interest payments, but that's money we wouldn't need to spend; car sharing would be vastly cheaper unless we were using the car sharing service literally every day for long-ish rides.
Why incur that extra cost when we can walk 2 minutes to a car that's sitting there waiting for us? Or in a few years, when we can reserve the self-driving car and have it show up in front of our house?

I agree that it won't happen in the next year, or the next five years. Maybe not even 10 years. But probably in my working lifetime, I am reasonably confident in saying that car ownership will be the exception, not the rule.
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Last edited by DragonAsh; 09-22-2018 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 09-22-2018, 06:30 AM
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It seems all you have to do is decorate a car with a lots of cameras and passive sensors and then active ranging systems like radar and lidar. Store and process the resulting datastreams using the onboard computing system. At the same time have the car communicate using a fast, reliable broadband link to the computer systems backed by vast databases of historic car sensor data stored at Telsa HQ where Artificial Intelligence algorithms will inform and update the onboard driving system many times a second.

Personally, I can't wait for this to happen. The question is, how long and will it take for the technology to mature to the extent that it is reliable and can be trusted.

It seems to have taken an awfully long time for trains to become automated and that is in a very controlled railroad environment with a robust signalling system. Automated ships? Automated planes? Event military budgets don't seem to have these toys yet.

It is going to take a while, so making predictions about patterns of ownership seems a bit premature. Who knows how it will change behaviour?
  #20  
Old 09-22-2018, 06:40 AM
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Not too long ago the idea that people wouldn't own a land-line phone was ridiculous. Anyone suggesting as such would have been called 'inherently stupid'. ....

I agree that it won't happen in the next year, or the next five years. Maybe not even 10 years. But probably in my working lifetime, I am reasonably confident in saying that car ownership will be the exception, not the rule.
the telephone, either the mobile or the fixed line, and the automobile, they are not even the remotely similar asset in the terms of the cost or the lifespan or the utilization.

to make the prediction here it is necessary to look at the asset lifespans, not just for the initial owner but the asset market lifespan but including in this case the secondary markets, and make the analysis between different markets as the dense urban market is not at all like the suburban or the rural.

there is almost no valid lesson to take from the telephone market due to the fundamental asset differences and the completely different technology challenges including the transitioning externalities as like the safety and the interaction cost.

A wrong cellphone interoperability, it does not kill dozens of people in an accident...

Last edited by Ramira; 09-22-2018 at 06:41 AM.
  #21  
Old 09-22-2018, 07:52 AM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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I'm doubtful about LIDAR (humans don't need it), and in any case solid-state LIDAR is coming soon and will drive the cost down to hundreds of dollars.
Humans don’t need LIDAR to determine distance and motion because we have a visual cortex and eye that has undergone several hundred million years of evolution to be able to interpret an astonishing amount of visual information and integrate it into other senses. Even then, we are easily fooled by optical illusions or perceptual artifacts into mistaking distance and motion. Contrary to popular belief, perception of distance has almost nothing to do with parallax of binocular vision beyond a few inches and is the result of complex shape recognition and integration in the brain, the extent of which we are still struggling to understand.

I know there are a few people, Elon Musk in particular, who feel that computer vision will soon equal that of humans, but that is a conclusion borne out of blithe ignorance. Computer vision is one of the most difficult practical problems in machine cognition, and even after decades of effort by tens of thousands of researchers working every conceivable approach we still have yet to develop a system that can recognize a known 3D geometric shape at an arbitraty orientation and distance, and particularly if it is partly occluded by another object in the field of view. Recognizing orbitrary patterns, like a road lane with poorly identified boundaries, is something experienced drivers do almost instinctively but that computer vision systems have consistent trouble with.

LIDAR helps with rangefinding but the problem of synthesizing a wolrd model including inferrences of unseen parts of objects, like a motorcycle going around a truck and will appear at the other side at an expected time and speed, are really complex problems that have to be solved before fully autonomous vehicles are feasible for the reasons stated above. And while the costs of LIDAR and computer vision systems will reduce with higher volumes and advances in technology (although I doubt they will be so low as to be inconsequential of,the cost of a vehicle), the point remains that once autonomously piloted vehicles demonstrate order of magnatude improvements in safety and reliability, and offer the ability to offset the direct and indirect costs of ownership through communal ownership, subscription service, or making it available for secondary use when not immediately needed, the benefit to most people of not bearing the expense of a privately owned vehicle that sits idle for most of,the time is pretty evident, especially as other lifestyle costs like food, medical care, and housing continue to rise.

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Old 09-22-2018, 10:26 AM
ohiomstr2 ohiomstr2 is offline
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"One thing I realized. It's been talked about for a while, and most car companies working on autonomy have discussed this "shift".

Simply put, the economics mean that manufacturers have no reason to sell you autonomous cars for affordable prices at all. Why sell them when they can rent them to you by the mile or the month? And the liability involved means they can't really sell them without you paying a software upgrade, maintenance, and vehicle replacement monthly fee...basically a lease.

I am aware that Tesla is still talking about this, and selling Model 3s that allegedly have this capacity, but the math just doesn't check out.

Look at all the middlemen it eliminates :

Car dealers. Factory storage lots. Car Financing banks. Car Insurance companies. Most car advertising - no need to sex up a car so you will make a 40k purchase, you can just enjoy a nice car by the mile. Most of the gasoline sales will disappear : it makes sense for some of these vehicles to be hybrids that do burn some gas but they would only use gasoline doing long runs across big cities and between cities.

Middlemen remaining : mechanics, and a few centrally operated refueling/recharging stations per city. Probably 5-10% of the total gas stations and mechanics that we have now, since the manufacturer pays for repairs, they will design them to be cheaper to service and less likely to break. I don't think these service/refueling/recharging/cleaning centers will be manufacturer owned because it's more efficient to have them serve all brands."

I think the OP is underestimating the economic impact of this idea. Leaving aside the social impacts, this would drastically affect thousands of small business owners.

Not sure large manufacturing concerns itself with this issue. But I rather think they will when their customer base continues to erode

Last edited by ohiomstr2; 09-22-2018 at 10:27 AM.
  #23  
Old 09-22-2018, 10:32 AM
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Humans don’t need LIDAR to determine distance and motion because we have a visual cortex and eye that has undergone several hundred million years of evolution to be able to interpret an astonishing amount of visual information and integrate it into other senses.
Humans could probably benefit from it too, considering human drivers kill >40,000 people in the US every year.

Last edited by scr4; 09-22-2018 at 10:33 AM.
  #24  
Old 09-22-2018, 10:52 AM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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I think the OP is underestimating the economic impact of this idea. Leaving aside the social impacts, this would drastically affect thousands of small business owners.

Not sure large manufacturing concerns itself with this issue. But I rather think they will when their customer base continues to erode
Absolutely. I was simply trying to show that the economics of it - by not paying all this middlemen - make it much more efficient. Which in turn either means large profits for the manufacturer, or in a competitive market, very low prices. Very low prices for autonomous rides make owning your own car an expensive luxury.

People will still do it, but as fewer people buy their own cars and as gas stations and mechanics who repair them and auto parts stores and car dealerships start to close down and disappear, it would be harder and more expensive to keep driving your own manually operated car.

It probably won't happen as fast as streaming overtook Blockbuster video, but it'll happen.

Last edited by SamuelA; 09-22-2018 at 10:53 AM.
  #25  
Old 09-22-2018, 11:28 AM
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I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time".
Yes, I missed a step. It will become more cost-effective to use a self-driving car on an ad hoc basis. Owning a car costs a lot of money: it has to be taxed and insured, it has to be garaged or have a parking pitch, it has to be serviced and tested annually (at least, here in the UK), and it depreciates. So as the cost of the automated car comes down it becomes cost-effective to not have a car.
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Old 09-22-2018, 11:51 AM
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Humans could probably benefit from it too, considering human drivers kill >40,000 people in the US every year.
Well, I’ll get right on installing laser-equipped cybernetic implants in infants. I don’t see how anything could possibly go wrong with this plan.

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Old 09-22-2018, 11:57 AM
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Not too long ago the idea that people wouldn't own a land-line phone was ridiculous. Anyone suggesting as such would have been called 'inherently stupid'.
Interesting comparison, seeing that the telephone model used to involve leasing a phone from Our Lordships at AT&T (no one was permitted to own their own phone). Now, private ownership of phones is taken for granted.

There are many people who like renting their music in perpertuity rather than owning albums. Lots of folks prefer leasing cars to owning them.

The thing to remember about cars is their basic appeal to freedom - getting out on the road and going where you want. For many, owning your own vehicle is part of that.
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Old 09-22-2018, 12:04 PM
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I think at least one major problem with this prognostication is that it's a purely utilitarian analysis that, even if right, overlooks the personal, subjective, and deeply ingrained cultural aspects of owning a car, particularly one that's been customized to one's tastes and becomes an extension of one's personality. I've no doubt that autonomous self-driving cars will transform the ride-for-hire businesses like taxis and Uber, but I'm doubtful that it will do very much to personal car ownership. Car-sharing services like Zipcar already exist, touting potential savings over ownership, but they haven't displaced car buying in any measurable way, and though they may become more convenient with autonomous cars, I don't think they will in future.

Sure there are hardcore urbanites who don't own cars and rent them when they want to go on a trip, but it's mostly because it's not practical for them to own and they'd use them very rarely, which is a niche market that doesn't apply to most of us. I think most of us will always want to own their own transportation for personal reasons and indeed many people consider their cars one of their most iconic possessions. In fact just last week a friend of mine was in town to pick up his new Jaguar F-type, which, Lord knows, he doesn't "need" in any utilitarian sense, particularly since he owns two other cars. Personally I'm not at all a car nut, but even I can appreciate pride of ownership. Similar principles apply to boats and country cottages, which many people choose to own despite the availability of rentals and the far superior economics and practicalities of renting.
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Old 09-22-2018, 12:19 PM
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Very low prices for autonomous rides make owning your own car an expensive luxury.
It's interesting to note how many people currently choose to make car ownership an expensive luxury. Indeed, the number of marques that prosper by catering to this market is impressive.

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People will still do it, but as fewer people buy their own cars and as gas stations and mechanics who repair them and auto parts stores and car dealerships start to close down and disappear, it would be harder and more expensive to keep driving your own manually operated car.
Yes - but for as long as people want to do something, there will be people supplying the goods & services they need to do it.

Look at the example of horses, whose impending demise was obvious to many when the automobile arrived on the scene ~100 years ago. Yet here in the 21st century, the number of horses - and the money people spend on them - continues to increase.


In short, there are good reasons to expect the patterns of car ownership to change. But the idea that private car ownership is "about to disappear" is dubious.
  #30  
Old 09-22-2018, 12:57 PM
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Humans could probably benefit from it too, considering human drivers kill >40,000 people in the US every year.
Autonomous driving doesn't have to be better than humans at their best for it to be a massive improvement. It doesn't get drunk, or sleepy, or distracted, or sluggish, or angry, or impatient, or inattentive. Most accidents involve at least one person doing something stupid and easily preventable. Avoiding these will be the primary benefit of autonomous cars; "superhuman" level driving may come some day but it's not needed to reduce the death count by a huge factor.
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Old 09-22-2018, 01:52 PM
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Contrary to popular belief, perception of distance has almost nothing to do with parallax of binocular vision beyond a few inches
That's... not exactly true. Just try covering one eye while driving and see how awkward it feels (actually, I don't recommend this). What is true is that with practice, humans are able to easily compensate and use parallax-from-motion (both head and body). I'm not aware of any great difference in accident rate between one- and two-eyed individuals.

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LIDAR helps with rangefinding but the problem of synthesizing a wolrd model including inferrences of unseen parts of objects, like a motorcycle going around a truck and will appear at the other side at an expected time and speed, are really complex problems that have to be solved before fully autonomous vehicles are feasible for the reasons stated above.
You speak as if you think computer vision is a separate problem from LIDAR processing. It's not. You have all the same problems, and then some, because you have a new sensor to integrate.

It's probably better to think of LIDAR as like a new spectral band than as some wholly different kind of sensor. You still get an image out of it; it's just that the pixels represent depth instead of color.

To use that imagery, you still need the same kind of computer vision processing. It doesn't give you any kind of object recognition or even discrimination automatically. You still have to deal with noise and other errors (particularly in inclement weather). It's also low-res and low-framerate compared to cameras.

For me, it's tough to see exactly which benefits LIDAR provides once robust computer vision is available. It's not that this is an easy problem: it's not, by any means. It's that LIDAR needs it too, but if you have it, then cameras are just as good. LIDAR only helps with the earliest and easiest layers of the processing stack, and not with the hard stuff like object discrimination.

It may end up, of course, that all AVs get LIDAR just because it's cheap and easy to throw it on. And in the short term, it does make some things easier, and if nothing else you get mapping for free (an advantage for Waymo, etc.). But again, it doesn't solve the hard problems of computer vision; depth estimation is comparatively trivial.
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Old 09-22-2018, 02:37 PM
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Autonomous driving doesn't have to be better than humans at their best for it to be a massive improvement. It doesn't get drunk, or sleepy, or distracted, or sluggish, or angry, or impatient, or inattentive. Most accidents involve at least one person doing something stupid and easily preventable. Avoiding these will be the primary benefit of autonomous cars; "superhuman" level driving may come some day but it's not needed to reduce the death count by a huge factor.
All of this is true; however, the issue of liability is going to require a high degree of reliability by autonomous piloted systems. With a human driver, you can blame the driver for accident and resulting damages unless there is some mechanical failure; with an autonomous piloted system, there is no clear liability, and insurers are going to be reluctant to cover such systems until they are at least as good as an alert human driver at preventing avoidable accidents. Your other points about such systems not suffering from fatigue, distraction, intoxication, et cetera, are on point, and in addition, it is relatively trivial to equip such a system with 360 degree situational awareness, avoiding many of the common accidents that occur while backing up, changing lanes, or turning through an intersection. Once such systems on on par with an alert human driver in terms of interpretation of hazards, they will already be far superior to a human driver on average.

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You speak as if you think computer vision is a separate problem from LIDAR processing. It's not. You have all the same problems, and then some, because you have a new sensor to integrate.

It's probably better to think of LIDAR as like a new spectral band than as some wholly different kind of sensor. You still get an image out of it; it's just that the pixels represent depth instead of color.
LIDAR provides active rangefinding instead of interpolating from a “flat” image, and at a high enough resolution, can at least provide the shape of a frontal aspect. It is qualitiatively different than interpreting video imagery from a camera, which is a very difficult problem that researchers have struggled with for several decades with only very modest gains. At some point, presumably, there will be a series of breakthroughs in which visual processing will improve to the point that it is comparable to human vision interpretation, but I don’t think we can really predict when that will happen. The multiple completely avoidable accidents with Tesla’s Autopilot is evidence that visual recognition of road hazards and lane indicators is not robust, particularly when those indicators are not well marked or are confusing, as many of them are. And I don’t note this specifically to bash Tesla beyond their fielding a manifestly immature capability; nobody else really has a better capability without resorting to LIDAR and other conventional collision avoidance systems.

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Old 09-22-2018, 03:08 PM
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Yes, I missed a step. It will become more cost-effective to use a self-driving car on an ad hoc basis. Owning a car costs a lot of money: it has to be taxed and insured, it has to be garaged or have a parking pitch, it has to be serviced and tested annually (at least, here in the UK), and it depreciates. So as the cost of the automated car comes down it becomes cost-effective to not have a car.
Those won't actually stop, though. All of those costs would, under the OP's concept (as well as every related concept I've seen) simply be transferred to the renters in some fashion, whether implicitly or openly. And most or all of them will not benefit from economies of scale in the way you think; in fact, there are ample reasons to expect some level of diseconomies of scale as it requires *higher* inventoyies to satisfy customer demand.

Thre short version is that while the OP is assuming an extremely specific set of social changes that force a wide array of options into an extremely narrow possibility space. In fact, the modern ecnomy shows the exact oppositte: given more choices, consumers almost inevitably show greater divergence over time as they seek more convenient, or more cost-effective, solutions.
  #34  
Old 09-22-2018, 03:30 PM
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LIDAR provides active rangefinding instead of interpolating from a “flat” image, and at a high enough resolution, can at least provide the shape of a frontal aspect.
LIDAR just provides a low-quality depth map. All of the hard problems of visual processing are still there.

There is first the problem of just grouping samples together. Primitive machine vision systems used techniques like edge detection--trying to find the outline of an object by using contrast or color to trace along the edge. This is woefully inadequate for probably obvious reasons. But depth processing has nearly the same issue. Primitive systems found an edge by looking for discontinuities in the depth. But again, this runs into problems almost immediately.

Supposing you've solved that somehow, now you have to figure out what those samples represent. Is it a car, a person, a tree? One can perhaps imagine matching a picture against a large database of cars at various angles to see if any are a close match. But this isn't sustainable; you run across an unusual-looking car and the system fails. Again, LIDAR has the same problem. You could try to match your depth image again the geometry of vehicles at different angles, but it just has the same problem with the fixed database.

There's a lot more obviously, but for basically every problem that is still unsolved in vision, it's also unsolved for depth. And so the current method de jure of solving these problems is the same: convolutional neural nets (CNNs).

CNNs have made incredible progress, doing a decent job on both problems I mentioned (and vastly outpacing previous non-machine-learning work), but there's a lot more work to be done. And as yet unproven if there's some giant additional step that needs to be taken.
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Old 09-22-2018, 03:59 PM
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LIDAR just provides a low-quality depth map. All of the hard problems of visual processing are still there.
It is true that LIDAR is not a panacea—the processing system still has to integrate data fast enough to form a dynamic model of the local world, and be able to distinguish between discrete moving and static objects as well as perceptual artifacts, although LIDAR operating in the near-infrared range have little in the way of anomolous phenomena—but LIDAR doesn’t just give a “low-quality depth map”; it provides a dynamic vector field of the local world, and at automotive control ranges it provides a resolution of ~5 cm or better, which is certainly enough to distinguish objects larger than a baseball even if it cannot provide a detailed “image” of a human face. More importantly, it doesn’t require perceiving identifiable objects in order to establish a potential hazard far beyond that of radar-based collision avoidance systems and can operate in complete darkness to perceive objects not emitting or reflecting headlights or ambient light, or if blinded by sunlight or high beams. This is independent of the problem of actually identifying an object.

The claim that visual-only sensing is “good enough” is belied by the failures of vision-based current systems such as those used by Tesla or Uber, which admittedly are still in their infancy but demonstrate the immaturity of machine vision approaches that require the system to positively identify a potential hazard through pattern or object recognition alone rather than active sensing of a potential hazard regardless of whether it is positively identified. Tesla, Uber, and others pursuing this approach are doing so not because it is the best technical approach but because they want to be soonest to market at a cost point that makes LIDAR-based systems prohibitive. There is, however, a massive disconnect with research into machine vision, which indicates that we are still far from building systems that can process video information into a coherent and accurate model of the world that is anywhere close to what a human brain can do, and the ambitions to field a visual-only autonomous piloted vehicle which can result in injury and death to the occupants and bystanders should it fail.

And as scr4 notes, even human drivers fail at this all too often, in part because of inattentive or reckless driving but also because of confusion of the image scene, being blinded by bright lights, or just misjudging distances and speeds. Making an visual only autonomous piloted vehicle would require a perception system that is actually superior to human vision, and we just aren’t anywhere near that capability right now or in the near future.

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  #36  
Old 09-23-2018, 11:07 AM
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I don't have time to read the whole thread, but while "ordering" a self-driving car like you would an Uber would work just fine in cities it would definitely NOT work in suburbs or the country. If you live in a place like north-eastern Vermont and the nearest house is too far away to see you NEED a car in the driveway in case of an emergency. Waiting over an hour for the nearest self-driving car to show up may not be an option.
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Old 09-23-2018, 12:50 PM
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I think that there will be a shift towards not owning a car for many people, but it certainly would not make private car ownership disappear for a long, long time, if ever.

It depends entirely on the price points, of course. Owning a car is expensive. There is obviously the purchase price, then the maintenance costs, along with the gasoline which is the only real variable cost.

And this is for something that is sitting there idle 90%+ of the time.

If the cost of me travelling to and from work would be less in a self driving autonomous car, then I'd get rid of my car and switch, no problem. I don't mind driving, but I'd rather not for the most part, and I certainly wouldn't mind saving a bunch of money by not having to own my own car.

There will absolutely be those who want to own their own car, especially since you'd have to own a car to have any chance at having manual controls (they aren't going to put manual controls in transport vehicles), but I do think that many will opt into saving the money, space, and hassle of personal ca ownership. The question is, if you own your own self driving car, are you going to have it sit in your driveway or parking spot 90% of the tme, or will you sent it out to make you money.

As is, the transit system nearly anywhere sucks. If I want to take a bus down to the city, I have to travel at least 3 miles to the nearest stop, and it only has 3 routes in the morning, one in the afternoon, and 2 in the evening. And that is not in the direction that I work in, if I want to take a bus to where I work, well, I just can't, there isn't one. I need to have a car in order to get to work.

With a different model based on electric AVs, I can have a car come pick me up in front of my house, or maybe for just a little cheaper, pick me up at the end of my road. If I don't mind sharing, and I book in advance, it would not be hard to create very efficient routes, and much more adaptable than bus routes, as it would be much easier to send a van rather than a car, or send another car, if the number of passengers on a route increases, than it is to try to assign a new bus to it.

As far as maintenance, I think the OP goes a bit overboard, but the cars would be better maintained. You would need fewer fueling/recharging stations, as right now, mst gas pumps are empty most of the time, that could be allocated more efficiently. At the stations, there would be some basic testing and diagnostic systems. While it is recharging, it would not be hard to check the responsiveness of sensors or other minor calibrations. The car would also have fairly extensive on board diagnostics, and would be able to run itself into the shop anytime it needed preventative maintenance, rather than what many of us do, drive it till it dies then get it towed to a shop.

With cheap and prevalent AV's, I do think that that standard for having a driver's license should be much higher. We set it at a pretty low standard today because having a car is essential to survival. Unfortunately, being a bad driver is not conducive to survival. Just eliminating the worst 10-20% of drivers would probably decrease the crash and fatality rate by more than 50%. Only allowing those who are currently in the top 25 to 10% of drivers would pretty close to eliminate it.

Give it 100 years, and maybe private car ownership will be at an end, but only as far as basic transportation. People would still, even then, want their private cars for recreational activities, even if they are limited in the areas they may drive manually.
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Old 09-23-2018, 01:42 PM
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I don't have time to read the whole thread, but while "ordering" a self-driving car like you would an Uber would work just fine in cities it would definitely NOT work in suburbs or the country. If you live in a place like north-eastern Vermont and the nearest house is too far away to see you NEED a car in the driveway in case of an emergency. Waiting over an hour for the nearest self-driving car to show up may not be an option.
Agree. Military, police, fire, and small rural homesteads would manual drive vehicles.

As a side note, the same technology that makes autonomous vehicles possible would eliminate a lot of farming jobs.

Last edited by SamuelA; 09-23-2018 at 01:42 PM.
  #39  
Old 09-23-2018, 02:11 PM
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Agree. Military, police, fire, and small rural homesteads would manual drive vehicles.
At some point, I expect only self-driving cars will be allowed on public roads. Vehicles for those special needs may have manual-driving capabilities, but not be 100% manual.

And I think cars can be more efficient and cheaper if all cars were self-driving, because there would be less need for passive safety.
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:31 PM
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I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time".
When your car is able to drive itself, you actually own a taxi that is dedicated to you and your family. A taxi that is sitting idle for hours and hours every day.

A fleet of self driving cars that can be used 75% of the time instead of 10% would be significantly cheaper to run. High asset utilization is the name of the game.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:09 PM
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I think at least one major problem with this prognostication is that it's a purely utilitarian analysis that, even if right, overlooks the personal, subjective, and deeply ingrained cultural aspects of owning a car, particularly one that's been customized to one's tastes and becomes an extension of one's personality. I've no doubt that autonomous self-driving cars will transform the ride-for-hire businesses like taxis and Uber, but I'm doubtful that it will do very much to personal car ownership. Car-sharing services like Zipcar already exist, touting potential savings over ownership, but they haven't displaced car buying in any measurable way, and though they may become more convenient with autonomous cars, I don't think they will in future.

Sure there are hardcore urbanites who don't own cars and rent them when they want to go on a trip, but it's mostly because it's not practical for them to own and they'd use them very rarely, which is a niche market that doesn't apply to most of us. I think most of us will always want to own their own transportation for personal reasons and indeed many people consider their cars one of their most iconic possessions. In fact just last week a friend of mine was in town to pick up his new Jaguar F-type, which, Lord knows, he doesn't "need" in any utilitarian sense, particularly since he owns two other cars. Personally I'm not at all a car nut, but even I can appreciate pride of ownership. Similar principles apply to boats and country cottages, which many people choose to own despite the availability of rentals and the far superior economics and practicalities of renting.
This, absolutely. But there are even bigger reasons why most people will want to continue owning their owns cars rather than rapidly switching through multiple cars owned by a corporation.

My wife's job requires her to lug a lot of stuff around as she visits nursing homes, hospitals, and homes. It would be major pain in the ass if she had to transfer all that stuff from one car to another every day or two. In addition to transportation, cars are auxiliary storage space for all kinds of stuff and people would not be willing to give that up.

Or try having a baby. When you have one, you need to have a car seat in the back and most likely you're carrying a diaper bag and a bunch of toys and spare clothes with you wherever you go. Which means that you don't want to be constantly moving that stuff from one car to another.

People use their cars for all kinds of tasks in addition to transportation, and they personalize cars to their needs and tastes. And that's not possible if you're doing short term leases and changing cars constantly.
  #42  
Old 09-24-2018, 12:10 PM
YamatoTwinkie YamatoTwinkie is online now
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I don't understand the logic that bridges the gap between "cars will drive themselves" and "everybody will suddenly want to take taxis all the time".
Imagine I gave you a personal chauffeur for each car that you own (lets just say in this hypothetical you have 2 cars in your household, so you now have 2 chauffeurs). Each of these chauffeurs are on-call 24/7, take up zero room in your car, never need to take bathroom breaks, and you never have to pay them.

Its probably not going to take long before you start saying to yourself: "Well, i have TWO of these guys, and each of them are just sitting around 21 hours a day doing absolutely nothing at predictable times (parked at home, parked at work, parked at the grocery store), waiting for me or my family to need them. How about I tell one of them to go find a job working for Uber when I'm not using it? Sure, it's a bunch more wear and tear on my car, and I'd have to pay $20/day to get it cleaned, but it's 21 hours a day in free labor! Even at minimum wage, that's like $1300/week! In fact, I'd like to have *both*of them getting jobs at Uber, but I don't want to risk them both being across town when I need a ride *now*, so I'll keep one dedicated for me, for now."

Now picture all the cars parked in your neighborhood (in garages and on the street). Picture all the cars parked at the grocery store, and at the parking lot where you work, also sitting around unused for 21 hours a day. Imagine each one of them has also been granted it's own personal chauffeur. All those owners have also done the math, and realized that they're missing out on 21 hours of free Uber money a day, so they all make the same decision as you and keep half of their cars personally dedicated to themselves, and half to Uber.

Now your entire town has an absolutely enormous influx of Uber rides available. Fully half the cars in every single parking lot, and in every single household garage are just sitting around waiting for someone to hail a ride. How many seconds do you think it would take you to get an Uber in these conditions, maybe 10 or less?

So now you've realized that with a 10 second Uber wait time anywhere you are, there's no point retaining your other chauffeur. You have that one get a job at Uber too, this time for 24 hours a day (another $1500/week!). You don't even have it park at home anymore, what's the point? You convert your garage to a home theater.

All your neighbors now do the same. With so much supply of free labor, and so little demand, Uber ride prices plummet, and settle on barely more than the upkeep/gas on the car. With so many cars still sitting around doing nothing but wait for rides, and the huge profit incentive gone, nobody is making money in Uber anymore other than large companies that can afford to make razor-thin profit margins. But Uber prices are still ridiculously cheap, so everyone still uses it, and people just make the rational choice to start dumping their cars one by one, until supply and demand re stabilize.

With no purpose, more than 75% of the car population eventually disappears. Home garages sit empty, parking lots are barren. Sure, people still have personal cars, but it's no longer cost-effective or more convenient to do so. Uber is still dirt cheap, and wait times are negligible.
  #43  
Old 09-24-2018, 12:19 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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When your car is able to drive itself, you actually own a taxi that is dedicated to you and your family. A taxi that is sitting idle for hours and hours every day.

A fleet of self driving cars that can be used 75% of the time instead of 10% would be significantly cheaper to run. High asset utilization is the name of the game.
What do I care if society is able to use cars 40%* more efficiently if I take taxis all the time? I want my own car that I don't have to share with the planet. I'm extremely confident car companies will be happy to sell it to me (though I'm somewhat less confident they'll offer it at a price I like).

* I don't believe that a fleet of self-driving car would all be in use 75% of the time. 100% of them will be on the roads during rush hour and that number will drop to 50% during the rest of the day and 10% at night. (Figures pulled from my butt but the model seems plausible enough to dispute a 75% butt-sourced number.)

Another thing I've noticed in this thread is a tendency to assume that because some people will like a new model, that all people will. In a thread about whether the old model will disappear, that matters. I was amused to read about how cell phones had eradicated land lines, for example - I have a land line. They still exist alongside cell phones for people who prefer them. I'm absolutely certain that privately owned cars will function the same way, except moreso. It can reasonably argued that everybody could function pretty well if land lines went away and only cell phones existed. If privately owned cars went away then large numbers of people in rural or semirural areas would be screwed.

As for the notion that the safety of autonomous cars would render manual driving illegal due to being too unsafe, you guys do realize that autonomous cars make manual driving safer too, right? The same systems that will watch out for toddlers in the street will also watch out for manually driven cars in the street. A road that's 99% autonomous will seem like heaven for reckless drivers; everyone else will be getting out of their way. And then they'll get pulled over and fined into oblivion of course - but that only applies to overtly reckless drivers. Decent drivers will have all the advantages of a road of autonomous cars along with their own natural habits of good driving; they'll probably do just fine.
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Old 09-24-2018, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by YamatoTwinkie View Post
Imagine I gave you a personal chauffeur for each car that you own (lets just say in this hypothetical you have 2 cars in your household, so you now have 2 chauffeurs). Each of these chauffeurs are on-call 24/7, take up zero room in your car, never need to take bathroom breaks, and you never have to pay them.

Its probably not going to take long before you start saying to yourself: "Well, i have TWO of these guys, and each of them are just sitting around 21 hours a day doing absolutely nothing at predictable times (parked at home, parked at work, parked at the grocery store), waiting for me or my family to need them. How about I tell one of them to go find a job working for Uber when I'm not using it? Sure, it's a bunch more wear and tear on my car, and I'd have to pay $20/day to get it cleaned, but it's 21 hours a day in free labor! Even at minimum wage, that's like $1300/week! In fact, I'd like to have *both*of them getting jobs at Uber, but I don't want to risk them both being across town when I need a ride *now*, so I'll keep one dedicated for me, for now."

Now picture all the cars parked in your neighborhood (in garages and on the street). Picture all the cars parked at the grocery store, and at the parking lot where you work, also sitting around unused for 21 hours a day. Imagine each one of them has also been granted it's own personal chauffeur. All those owners have also done the math, and realized that they're missing out on 21 hours of free Uber money a day, so they all make the same decision as you and keep half of their cars personally dedicated to themselves, and half to Uber.

Now your entire town has an absolutely enormous influx of Uber rides available. Fully half the cars in every single parking lot, and in every single household garage are just sitting around waiting for someone to hail a ride. How many seconds do you think it would take you to get an Uber in these conditions, maybe 10 or less?

So now you've realized that with a 10 second Uber wait time anywhere you are, there's no point retaining your other chauffeur. You have that one get a job at Uber too, this time for 24 hours a day (another $1500/week!). You don't even have it park at home anymore, what's the point? You convert your garage to a home theater.

All your neighbors now do the same. With so much supply of free labor, and so little demand, Uber ride prices plummet, and settle on barely more than the upkeep/gas on the car. With so many cars still sitting around doing nothing but wait for rides, and the huge profit incentive gone, nobody is making money in Uber anymore other than large companies that can afford to make razor-thin profit margins. But Uber prices are still ridiculously cheap, so everyone still uses it, and people just make the rational choice to start dumping their cars one by one, until supply and demand re stabilize.

With no purpose, more than 75% of the car population eventually disappears. Home garages sit empty, parking lots are barren. Sure, people still have personal cars, but it's no longer cost-effective or more convenient to do so. Uber is still dirt cheap, and wait times are negligible.
I have never used an Uber, and barring some sort of dire emergency, I never will use an Uber.

And more significantly, no car I own will EVER become an Uber. I don't want some drunk barfing in my car, and I don't want somebody's kids smearing peanut butter in it. I don't eat in my car, I don't let other people eat in my car, and I'm certainly not going to throw my doors open to allow everybody to eat in my car.

So that's my math - my car will NOT be joining this autonomous fleet. Other people can unleash their cars to be ruined by strangers; good for them. That won't effect my actions in the slightest. I'm not that desperate for cash.

And speaking of that cash - you're theorizing that a massive number of 'drivers' will swarm the roads. Do you not think that market forces will come into play here? You're not going to be making big bank as a tiny fish in a massive pond. You're going to be getting the bare minimum that would incentivize the poorest tiers of car owners to share their cars with strangers. Admittedly, there will probably higher-paying levels of taxi service - but to be one of those you'll have to clean your car between every trip, because the people paying premium prices for rides aren't going to be happy to find themselves sitting on a left-behind Pb&J. That won't be something that you set loose to make you money while you sit around; that will be an active job - and thus, not the way most car owners will operate. Most of these Uber rides will be buyer beware, and priced accordingly.

Which is not to say that tons of people won't be happy to submit their cars to such a system - in some areas (like densely packed cities) the demand for cars will probably be such that there will be tons of people with cars sitting in their garage 90% of their time just to take advantage of that sweet sweet rush hour money. But in places like where I live? Lots and lots of people will just own their own car.
  #45  
Old 09-24-2018, 12:39 PM
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wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YamatoTwinkie View Post
Imagine I gave you a personal chauffeur for each car that you own (lets just say in this hypothetical you have 2 cars in your household, so you now have 2 chauffeurs). Each of these chauffeurs are on-call 24/7, take up zero room in your car, never need to take bathroom breaks, and you never have to pay them.

Its probably not going to take long before you start saying to yourself: "Well, i have TWO of these guys, and each of them are just sitting around 21 hours a day doing absolutely nothing at predictable times (parked at home, parked at work, parked at the grocery store), waiting for me or my family to need them. How about I tell one of them to go find a job working for Uber when I'm not using it? Sure, it's a bunch more wear and tear on my car, and I'd have to pay $20/day to get it cleaned, but it's 21 hours a day in free labor! Even at minimum wage, that's like $1300/week! In fact, I'd like to have *both*of them getting jobs at Uber, but I don't want to risk them both being across town when I need a ride *now*, so I'll keep one dedicated for me, for now."
I would say that? Maybe you would. I wouldn't. I have all kinds of things that I could potentially hire out to make money, including myself. Some people do these things, but most don't. Why would a self-driving car suddenly incite a tsunami of entrepreneurialism among people who'd never think of doing any such things today? If I pay good money for a valued new car, the last thing I want is random strangers bouncing in and out of it all day, teenagers spilling drinks and fast food all over it, and somebody's kid throwing up in it.
  #46  
Old 09-24-2018, 12:50 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
What do I care if society is able to use cars 40%* more efficiently if I take taxis all the time? I want my own car that I don't have to share with the planet. I'm extremely confident car companies will be happy to sell it to me (though I'm somewhat less confident they'll offer it at a price I like).
What position are you arguing against? I don't think anyone is saying private ownership of cars will be forbidden. It'll just become a luxury and/or an eccentricity. Like people who own their own airplanes now.

Quote:
As for the notion that the safety of autonomous cars would render manual driving illegal due to being too unsafe, you guys do realize that autonomous cars make manual driving safer too, right? The same systems that will watch out for toddlers in the street will also watch out for manually driven cars in the street. A road that's 99% autonomous will seem like heaven for reckless drivers; everyone else will be getting out of their way.
I think you just explained why manual driving should become illegal.
  #47  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:00 PM
YamatoTwinkie YamatoTwinkie is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
Which is not to say that tons of people won't be happy to submit their cars to such a system - in some areas (like densely packed cities) the demand for cars will probably be such that there will be tons of people with cars sitting in their garage 90% of their time just to take advantage of that sweet sweet rush hour money. But in places like where I live? Lots and lots of people will just own their own car.
Honest question, how many cars are currently parked within a 10 minute driving radius (let's just say 4 miles) of your home and work locations? Even if only 20% of those are available to hail a ride, how many total cars is that?

I'm not saying everyone is going to switch overnight, people are still going to have personal cars for all sorts of reasons. But the financial and convenience factor (unless in *really* rural locations), just isn't going to factor in that decision.
  #48  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:10 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
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Using idle cars: While it's true that most cars spend most of the day doing nothing, they tend to be required around the same hours. If 24 people need a car 1 hour/day, theoretically they could make do with 1 car/24 people but if most of them want to use it at 8AM and 5PM, they'll need a car each. Unless that changes, the reduction in the number of cars may be existent but underwhelming.


LIDAR: It may provide basic information but the better the initial data you have, the more options you have for high-level processing. Red, green and blue are very basic data but when you're clever about combining them, you can get interesting results.

People who know more about image/3D processing will be able to go into more depth but one very important datum which LIDAR can provide is closure rate through Doppler filtering, whose importance you can probably guess when it comes to vehicle safety. It's also likely that different types of objects have different LIDAR Doppler signatures.

How much do LIDAR modules tend to cost? How has the price been changing over the last decade? A LIDAR AESA or active light-field camera may be 2-3 decades away but they seem like they could be extremely useful.
  #49  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:31 PM
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I have a feeling that what we're going to see is a fairly rapid switchover to autonomous road vehicles among large fleet users as soon at the technology is available. At first, this will be semis and other point-to-point vehicles where there is infrastructure available to load and unload them. Then, as the model emerges, we'll see residential delivery vehicles as soon as there's a mechanism for unloading the stuff; I suspect that having to go unload a truck at the curb when it happens to show up will be a big negative to most customers, and people will deliberately choose their competition, except if the autonomous version is significantly cheaper or faster. I mean, now delivery companies will leave on your doorstep if you're not there. Autonomous delivery vehicles will have to have some sort of ground drone to do the same.

As for consumer adoption, I'm not so sure. I don't think the ability to farm your car out in off hours is going to be a game changer for the automobile market. Many people just won't want to put the wear and tear on their own vehicle, nor be subject to the vagaries of calling a car and waiting for it. Plus, it won't be in your nice, dry garage waiting for you on a rainy day. We can already look at how Uber and Lyft work and the various bikeshare programs- people still buy cars and bring their own bikes downtown, despite both of these being common where I live.

And people buy the cars they buy for specific reasons- maybe they want a SUV because they have 5 kids, or a pickup because they do a lot of home improvement, or a specific car model because they're tall- for example my wife chose a VW Passat because the US-made ones can fit her 6'2" self with a kid car seat behind her, and most other sedans can't do that. Merely renting some nameless autonomous Uber doesn't get you any of those things guaranteed within your particular time frame- you may have to wait for the autonomous tall person car in the area to get done with someone else, or the autonomous pickups may be all in use when you feel like taking old branches to the dump.

I have a feeling what's going to happen is that various semi-autonomous technologies will be incorporated in cars as time goes on, and eventually they'll evolve into autonomous cars that end consumers will buy. I don't see there being a massive rapid shift from widespread private car ownership to some kind of communal pay-as-you-go system. Maybe when they're autonomous, some percentage will decide to try and profit by pimping them out as Robo-Uber or whatever, but I don't see it being significantly different than the way things work today.
  #50  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:36 PM
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Jasmine Jasmine is offline
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No way. People would give up their guns before they gave up their cars.
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