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Posts Tagged with “driverless cars”

Diverless cars – “15 years away”

Above: Jen-Hsun Huang of Nvidia and Elon Musk of Tesla at GPUTech 2015. Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

“We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in short time.” – Musk

 

Venture Beat shared some insights from Elon Musk on autonomous cars at a recent conference in the U.S.

Every time I hear of a road fatality or of someone who writes off their car in a crash,  it’s hard not to be frustrated because it seems to be very clear now that this will not be a problem future generations will have to deal with.

 

As far as safety goes, Musk said, “The evidence is already overwhelming” that self-driving cars can be better at things like alerting us to brake lights ahead than human reflexes are.

 

Read the full article here

 

Driverless Cars (1)

For most of this year I’ve been making time to learn about driverless car technology.

Humans driving cars is a problem. When we drive cars we are ‘machine operators’ and like any human who operates a machine, some are good and some are not. We get tired, we get distracted, we SMS, we get old, we get drunk.

Driving is dangerous. Driving is unproductive. Driving is wasteful.

My primary area of focus here is not the driverless technology itself, but the impact it will have on current systems and services and the in the new industries and services that will be developed as a result of it’s implementation.

Key benefits of the technology

  1. Health & Safety (lower incident rates of accidents)
  2. Productivity (more efficient travel times & ability to work or rest while in transit)
  3. Environmental (more efficient use of energy & a move to electric cars)

I’ll continue to research this topic and share links to research and development that I come across.

 

Below is a list of articles and videos I’ve found interesting so far and serve as a bit of an introduction to the topic:

 

1. (2011 TED talk) Googles Driverless Car by Sebastian Thrun

 

2. Google Self Driving Car Project (Official Google Blog, October 2010)

http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/what-were-driving-at.html

 

3. Google’s first prototype with no steering wheel (link)

 

3. Fortune Article on 3D printing human organs (link)

“A major source of organ donations? Auto collisions. Which means 3D printed organs won’t become a reality until we get self-driving cars, a surprising connection.”

 

4. How Google’s Driverless Cars Detect Aggressive Drivers (link)

 

5. Video of how the Google car navigates city streets

Video Stores & Multi-level Car Parks

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.34.51 am

At the bottom of my street is an independently run convenience store. It sells various fruits, vegetables, home wares and liquor.

5 or so years ago it used to be a DVD rental store and before that a VHS rental store.

We’ve watched the space in the store dedicated to video rentals go from 100% to 90% to 80% and so on, as the owners added snacks, then drinks, then more food, adapting their business to the growing needs of their customers and the market.

It occurred to me that the changes experiences by the our local video store might similarly happen to multi-level car parks over the next 10-20 years with the introduction of driverless cars.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.38.03 am

If we assume that driverless cars will become a part of daily life for most people in major cities in developed countries, we can see there will be a need for them to have a place to refuel and store them selves. It seems like a logical solution to this in dense cities would be to use existing multi-level car parks.

As VHS was replaced by DVD’s and DVD’s were replaced by digital video streaming, so might a single floor of a car park that is available to the general public today, in the future these may be replaced by driverless car spots.

The car parks might continue to be owned by private companies like Wilson (Australia), leasing individual spots or levels to either energy companies like BP or Mobil who will supply the fuel to the car manufactures, or to the car manufactures themselves who will refuel elsewhere.

Photo 24-05-2014 10 53 57 am

 

Designing the infrastructure to support driverless cars will be a very interesting project combining many key stakeholders from the private sector and government. Energy companies, insurance companies, storage companies, car manufactures, maintenance suppliers, roads and infrastructure. It’s game on.

Could be a good project for IDEO.

 

Designing Transportation Systems

Recently I’ve become very interested in the technologies being developed around optimising and improving transportation for people.

From my very initial reading, it seems that in the next 5 years we will have commercially available self driving cars and in the next 20 years, entire networks of self driving cards that will be available to most people in the developed world.

This week Google released an update on where they are at with the development of their own self driving technology. (See above)

I’m particularly interested in the infrastructure that will be needed to be built to support this breakthrough. It doesn’t seem hard to imagine a scenario where you use an UBER type application on your smart phone to book a car to take you out to dinner or to work each day.

Exploring the businesses models around these developments is very interesting. It may be that our kids will never actually own a car, rather they might pay an annual fee to be able to hire a car on demand. Most of the time our cars sit idle costing us money, so an on demand service makes sense.

Transportation

Self driving cars, apart from being safer, will also be more economic, being able to drive other people around while you are at work.

Above is a sketch of a multi story car storage and maintenance centre where the cars could also charge, assuming they are electric. Existing energy companies like BP, may in the future own these buildings which could be used by any number of cars made by different manufactures providing they have a standard charging interface.

I’ve not read enough yet about this work happening in this space, but I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing some ideas around how we might be able to design the transportation systems of the future.

 

UPDATE: There are a group of engineers and designers from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who have a goal to become the first city in the world to have a driverless car network. (See video below)

Interesting statistic: 80% of driver accidents are caused by human error. There are 1.2 million deaths globally caused by cars. Remove the drivers, and we save around 960,000 lives. This number of course assumes the driverless technology is evenly distributed globally which wouldn’t be the case initially, but its a goal to work towards.