back to article Electric driverless cars could make petrol and diesel motors 'socially unacceptable'

Connected vehicle folk ought to spend less time worrying about the trolley problem and more time concentrating on connected tech instead, Transport for London's Michael Hurwitz told the FISITA Plus mobility engineering conference this morning. "We spend a lot of time thinking whether the car should take out the child, or the …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Trolley problem.

      Probably by using regenerative breaking & electric motors in the wheels. That way the brakes can't really fail (the brakes and the motors are the same thing - if it can't brake, it also can't accelerate) especially if you put in a redundant (you could call it an "emergency") brake.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Trolley problem.

      While the trolley problem is an interesting distraction I think it might be possible to produce systems where the trolley problem is very unlikely to occur. Unlikely to the point of being largely irrelevant. If we have an electric CAV fleet driving around London saving many thousands of lives a year who dies when one of the vehicles quantum-tunnels onto a disused railway line is another address space all together.

      1. CheesyTheClown

        Re: Trolley problem.

        Consider connected autonomous vehicles.

        Either special utility vehicles or nearby delivery vehicles or worst case, nearby consumer vehicles can be algorithmicqlly redirected to a runaway vehicle, match speeds and forcefully decelerate the out of control vehicle.

        This would be wildly dangerous with human drivers, especially if they are not properly trained for such maneuvers. But by employing computer controlled cars, it could be possible to achieve this 99 out of 100 times with little more than paint damage.

        This doesn't solve a kids chasing a ball into the street without looking, but it can mitigate many issues related to systems failures.

        I can already picture sitting in a taxi and hearing. "Please brace yourself, this vehicle has been commandeered for an EV collision avoidance operation. Your insurance company has been notified that the owner of the vehicle in need will cover the cost of any collision damage to this vehicle. Time to impact, 21.4 seconds. Have a nice day"

      2. nijam

        Re: Trolley problem.

        > ...driving around London saving many thousands of lives a year

        Good grief, how many people actually die on London's roads?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Trolley problem.

          "Good grief, how many people actually die on London's roads?"

          It's about 3k for the whole country so, yes, if you think the OP might have been exaggerating you may be right. OTOH he may have been counting algorithmically induced near misses as lives saved.

  2. Commswonk Silver badge

    Bollocks...

    Over a working life of just over 40 years I must have driven somewhere north of 900,000 miles, with long distance commutes and carriage of "stuff" often in the mix. Many others will have driven a lot further. In all that time I heard all about congestion; now the modern concern is "pollution" and air quality. Either way the root cause is the same; lots of vehicles.

    However, in all that time nobody ever asked me why I was making the journeys I was, at the times when I was, and carrying what I was. Even now, in retirement, I drive quite a lot, sometimes over longish distances, still carrying "stuff" - albeit a different sort of stuff than I used to carry for work.

    And I have had to listen to all sorts of experts telling me that I was being selfish and doing it all wrong without taking the trouble to find out why I was doing it in the first place.

    The modern solution is to tell everyone that only fully electric autonomous cars will do; probably an easy answer if you look at a (small?) sub - set of all journeys made and project the findings on to all journeys. To be honest I could doubtless manage with a hybrid, but why should I "have" to allow the car to drive itself? My driving record is if not perfect at least one that has troubled the police and the courts little; from a personal (selfish?) perspective an autonomous car offers me nothing. (That might change; infirmity might catch up with me, but if that happens long journeys with "stuff" will be out anyway!)

    Examine London with its comprehensive public transport systems and you are likely to come to a different conclusion to that obtained by scrutinising the wider country. To my (probably) cynical mind reports such as these have the hallmarks of being tailored to fit an agenda.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks...

      I'd love to be able to relax on a long drive, but paying constant attention to the road is not optional currently.

      Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed.

      Given that the vast proportion of journeys are pretty short then I still see the 'short range electric car' as a potential solution to many people's needs with a couple of (neither exclusive, nor complete) alternatives for longer distances:

      - Trailer (with either batteries or a generator)

      - Hire car

      - Trains for the short range cars (drive to station, onto train, off train carry on)

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

        Me too.

        Pity THEY DO NOT EXIST

        What is available (slightly smart cruise control) <> what people think is available (much better) <> what people dream about driving in.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

          Given that at the moment the availiable cars are level 2 at best we'll have to wait a little bit longer.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

          "Pity THEY DO NOT EXIST"

          Shame that no research is being done then..

          Oh wait a moment, there is shed loads of research being done, to the point where we have vehicles on the road that are capable of a very significant proportion of the required driving.

          Pretty sure that even just getting a car to drive the motorway segments (which are by definition relatively easy) would be a vast improvement to the safety of driving at either end (certainly would improve my driving as I left the motorway if I had just had a few hours rest instead of constant observation).

          1. nijam

            Re: "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

            > Shame that no research is being done then.

            Oh, there's research. And there's marketing, and there's propaganda. And the research is almost certainly the one of the three that gets the least resources.

          2. jrchips

            Re: "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

            "we have vehicles on the road that are capable of a very significant proportion of the required driving"

            The key words here are "a very significant proportion" because "a very significant proportion" doesn't mean "all". But it needs to be "all' if you want to take the driver out of the equation. As long as you require some occupant interaction/supervision/emergency override you require a sober, alert, non-distracted occupant. So forget about watching movies, sleeping, writing code, etc. Said another way, Level 4.8 isn't almost Level 5, it's just Level 4. And it could be worse, because if 90% of the driving is done for you who's going to be alert for the unplanned, time-uncertain 10%?

            Fully autonomous means fully autonomous under every circumstance. Otherwise folks won't trust the vehicle. That's why Level 5 is such a big challenge.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: "Having a level 5 autonomous vehicle would be very nice indeed."

              "The key words here are "a very significant proportion" because "a very significant proportion" doesn't mean "all". But it needs to be "all' if you want to take the driver out of the equation. As long as you require some occupant interaction/supervision/emergency override you require a sober, alert, non-distracted occupant. So forget about watching movies, sleeping, writing code, etc. Said another way, Level 4.8 isn't almost Level 5, it's just Level 4."

              Unless it can be level 5 on motorways, and 4/3/2 elsewhere.

              I see that as being achievable relatively easily - motorways are by definition and design simple roads to drive, with limited vehicle types, limited speed differentials, all the junctions are of one basic type (merge out/in) - navigation is simple as well...

              If I can drive the 5 miles to my nearest motorway junction and then rest/relax for 5 hours before getting prompted to take back over for the last 20 miles then my capacity for paying attention in those last 20 miles will be vastly improved over the version of me that has been paying close attention to the behaviour of all the other vehicles on the road for the last 5 hours - that's just inevitable.

              And of course in all likelihood the car will be monitoring my off motorway driving and providing alerts, or even emergency inputs, as well - which would be an additional boost to the safety of my driving.

              It's coming, and I hope it will be here fairly soon.

              However I do get a little concerned by the apparent tie-in people see between the driving technology and the power technology. Just because Tesla are doing a pretty damned good at both, doesn't mean they have to come together... I've seen some pretty decent stuff from Mercedes autonomous division with petrochemical propelled vehicles.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks...

        Plans to promote widescale use of battery-electric cars still don't take the charging problem into account. They posit some new battery technology that is cheap, holds at least twice as much as Li-ion, and can be recharged in 10 minutes, just like a petrol/diesel car. Even a back of the envelope calculation shows that the power needs of thousands of charging (filling) stations for such batteries would overwhelm existing infrastructure.

        Hire cars for longer journeys aren't practical either. If they were only needed for 10% of journeys who would manufacture them, and where would they be refuelled? Most of the demand would be school holidays and long weekends, so either there would be hundreds of thousands of such cars lying idle much of the time, or demand would outstrip supply.

        There's also the delivery vehicle problem, even with widespread rail transport for long distance the last 10-50 miles will need to be by road, and there'll need to be a refuelling infrastructure for that anyway. Since that fleet is mostly diesel we could end up with petrol cars being forced off the road and replaced by electric, leaving diesel cars for the long-distance travel, the exact opposite of what governments are pushing for now.

        I'd put my money on alternative liquid fuels, like alcohol. Some recent work (last year?) at Oak Ridge labs in the US has shown promise for nanoscale catalysts that can take CO2 and electricity and create alcohol. If it works on a large scale it could provide an answer to storing excess renewable energy at point of generation, help with carbon capture, and produce a fuel that will leave existing infrastructure and vehicles almost unchanged.

        1. ITnoob

          Re: Bollocks...

          Now if only someone would invent a charger that could be placed at work or at home. They could make a fortune ;)

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Pint

          "nanoscale catalysts that can take CO2 and electricity and create alcohol. "

          OMG.

          The holy grail.

          With a PV panel you can make beer* out of thin air.

          *Well a beverage with added alcohol content, which is enough for some people.

        3. inmypjs Silver badge

          Re: Bollocks...

          "I'd put my money on alternative liquid fuels"

          Yes you are never going to fly across the Atlantic on batteries, we are not going to have ships made half out of batteries so the can 'steam' for a week.

          When the dead dino stuff gets too hard to dig up we will be synthesising chemical fuels to exploit their 60:1 energy density advantage over batteries.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Bollocks...

        how about this:

        a) buy what you want

        b) let it use the kind of fuel you want (electricity, gasoline, diesel, hydrogen, propane, whatever)

        c) drive wherever you want

        d) pay all of the costs with YOUR OWN MONEY

        this should handle the vast majority of needs.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Bollocks...

      The basic fantasy of all these proposals is they do not consider the reasons why people make various choices. Also, too many of the agenda setters assume any reason they do not like is invalid and selfish.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks...

        >The basic fantasy of all these proposals is they do not consider the reasons why people make various choices.

        People can only choose from the (practical) options available. You might choose to go to work on a thoroughbred stallion, but if you've got nowhere to park it...

    3. Citizens untied

      Re: Bollocks...

      Hear hear. I think Mr. van Dyck honestly doesn't have the first clue what people who actually spend their time living their selfish unproductive lives are actually up to. Perhaps this is the problem they actually trying to solve.

      1. Terrance Brennan

        Re: Bollocks...

        I am surprised no one has said anything about the gibberish Van Dyck is blubbering at the end of the article. WTF is all that? It seems to be a string of unrelated buzz words/phrases. Does this guy have the slightest clue of this thing called "reality"?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks...

      Examine London with its comprehensive public transport systems

      Slow and shite in my not inconsiderable experience of the same. Many of the interchanges are incredibly tedious, manual and slow, air quality on the underground is appalling (so much for "zero emissions"), and door to door speed is often only about double walking speed.

      If London is the poster child for public transport, then we need a different solution.

    5. Vic

      Re: Bollocks...

      Either way the root cause is the same; lots of vehicles

      Actually, I don't think that is the root cause.

      IMO, it's poor driving standards. I cannot count the number of times I've driven along a 3-lane motorway with some moron doing 60mph in lane 2, with nothing whatsoever in lane 1. That leaves substantially all the motorway traffic having to merge from three lanes into one.

      And people aren't good at merging; there's this *need* to be one space ahead of someone you've never met before. So when two lanes merge together, both slow to a crawl or complete standstill. A little self-discipline, and *both* lanes would get through the merge much faster.

      Then there's the bunch that leave huge gaps in front of themselves I slow traffic. I cycled across the Itchen Toll Bridge this morning, watching several drivers leave a good 30 yards ahead clear. This just pushes the queue backwards by that amount - and when a queue hits a junction/roundabout, it propagates up all the feeder roads to that junction. It doesn't take many people like this to cause significant congestion.

      There are far more examples of crap driving, but those will do to get going with. TL;DR: our roads are able to deal with higher numbers of vehicles than they currently do, if only said vehicles weren't driven by people deliberately trying to stop all traffic.

      Vic.

      1. batfink
        Headmaster

        Re: Bollocks...

        @Vic - agree with your post in general, but your comment about somebody driving slowly 0in the middle lane requiring three lans of traffic into one isn't correct. It's just the wierd UK fallacy that you can't drive past somebody on their left and therefore need to cross two lanes to pass them on their right. I was dumbstruck the first time I saw it. Stop it at once!

        This is just an inability to distinguish between "overtaking oin the left" and "passing on the left". One is illegal, the other not. If you're already in a further-left lane, you can continue past a car on your right at your own speed. Now, compare this to "overtaking", which infers two lne-changes, ending up in the lane you started with.

        Of course, if we were to actually enforce the "keep left unless overtaking" rules, this problem wouldn't exist...

        1. Vic

          Re: Bollocks...

          It's just the wierd UK fallacy that you can't drive past somebody on their left and therefore need to cross two lanes to pass them on their right

          Except in two very specific circumstances - one of which is very unlikely to occur on motorways - that's no fallacy.

          You *are* allowed to pass on the left in congested conditions where the nearside lane is moving more quickly than the one to its right - "when traffic is moving slowly in queues", .

          You *are not*[1] allowed to pass on the left when someone is simply hogging lane 2.

          This is laid out in The Highway Code (Rule 163).

          Vic.

          [1] As this is a "should only" rule, it's not *technically* a breach of the Highway Code to overtake on the left - but there have been numerous prosecutions for doing this.

      2. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks...

        @Vic

        Agree completely on the middle lane hogger issue.

        Leaving some space though can help reduce traffic - think of all those times someone ends up in the wrong lane, intentionally or not, and needs to pull into the stationary lane of traffic and so stops (or drastically slows) in the moving lane, stopping that.

        Leaving a space allows them to pull in, keeping other lanes flowing.

        When this isn't the case, having a buffer zone can allow you to keep moving smoothly and slowly, instead of constant stop-start.

        1. Vic

          Re: Bollocks...

          Leaving some space though can help reduce traffic

          Sure - but there's a world of difference between leaving a bit of space so that traffic can adjust, and leaving an enormous gap in very slow-moving traffic on a single lane where there is no such adjustment to be made...

          When this isn't the case, having a buffer zone can allow you to keep moving smoothly and slowly, instead of constant stop-start.

          Yes, but again - if you're doing 5mph, you don't need much of a buffer to achieve that. 50 yards at 5mph is 20s of driving if the car in front doesn't move at all. That's not a buffer, that's just causing a traffic jam.

          Vic.

    6. MK_E

      Re: Bollocks...

      Have an upvote. I live in a satellite town and take the train in for a weekday commute. For travelling in en-masse with a few hundred other people who are all going from Specific Place A to Specific Place B, mass transit is perfect.

      On weekends? Sucks to be me, the trains don't run frequently enough to get me into town on time. Nobody else is going in at 7am on a Saturday so it doesn't make sense to send an entire train either.

      On night shifts? No such thing as an overnight return on scotrail, fork out for two singles even though it's literally the same as a dayshift worker's "go into work and back" just with AM and PM reversed.

      If I want to visit the parents? Public transport is, according to google, three changes minimum and will take three hours, at god knows what cost, while hopping in the car will get me there in little over an hour with as much crap packed into the boot as I feel like carrying. Even heading into Glasgow, the instant I put a single person in my passenger seat, it becomes cheaper per person than paying rail fare. Another guy I know wanted to travel from Leeds to Birmingham for the bank holiday weekend. It was literally cheaper for two people to go to the airport and hire a car than it was to take the train.

      All the ads and viral images I see scattered around the place along the lines of that one with a city street packed with cars and what it would look like if all those people took a single city bus or light rail seem to be oblivious to the idea that not all people are travelling to or from the same places or at the same times.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks...

        "For travelling in en-masse with a few hundred other people who are all going from Specific Place A to Specific Place B, mass transit is perfect."

        Unfortunately going from Specific Place A to Specific Place C by mass transit is unmitigated hell when mass transit only leaves A towards B which is diametrically opposite the direction to C. The journey from Specific Place B then goes by separate service to Specific Place D after a 40 minute wait and arrives there, assuming it's on time, with a 2 minute window to catch the next service, which runs at 15 minute intervals, to Specific Place C.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bollocks...

        "No such thing as an overnight return on scotrail, fork out for two singles even though it's literally the same as a dayshift worker's "go into work and back" just with AM and PM reversed."

        That's the easy one One way for the first night, day returns work-home-work for the rest of the period, single the other way for the last night.

    7. Dave 15

      Re: Bollocks...

      Reasons to commute by car...

      Council stop the only direct busservice and tell you that you can use 2 busses instead (that take 5 hours in and 4 our out for a 25 mile journey)

      Government giving the unemployed a stack of cash to live in a house next to my office that they can't afford while I (stupidly trying to earn a living) have to commute every day because I can't afford the house I am paying for through my tax

      Companies that think if I work from home I will be shopping.... and ignoring the fact I am doing it on the itnernet from work anyway!

  3. JimC Silver badge

    For inner cities

    Its quite easy to imagine a sort of automated electric taxi service, because usage will be high enough and dead time low enough. It would fight against energy usage of course, but automated interior cleaning would solve a lot of problems with multi use vehicles, and if lead times were short enough there could be something like a "reject if filthy" option wherupon it would go back to base for a deep clean.

    Long distance transport, and the countryside, on the other hand would be quite a different proposition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For inner cities

      It doesn't need automated interior cleaning, just internal cameras to see if the user has left mess in the car and give them the option to take it with them or pay for cleaning. When cleaning is required the car drives itself to a cleaner, probably someone working from home. I see an app coming on for this home worker car cleaning business .... lets call in Scruber.

      1. vir

        Re: For inner cities

        Not Scruber, Scrubbr. Or is that the one that lets you post pictures of your sponges for people to vote on?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: For inner cities

        "When cleaning is required the car drives itself to a cleaner"

        rube goldberg setup ensues:

        a) car picked up, roof pops open, shake out the trash

        b) car is hosed down on the inside, blown dry with something equivalent to a jet engine

        c) a robot arm comes out from the side [off camera], hangs a tree-shaped de-oderizer from where the rear view mirror would normally be

        [while 'Powerhouse' plays in the background]

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: For inner cities

      Its quite easy to imagine a sort of automated electric taxi service, because usage will be high enough and dead time low enough.

      Cities have their own set of problems when you think about it.

      Firstly, you'd need time out to charge the battery, which is in fact a huge array of 18650 batteries, identical to that used on laptop's. In laptops lithium batteries tend to last for about a thousand charge cycles as a rule of thumb before you have to replace the battery because it won't hold a charge.

      Secondly, if it doesn't require a meatbag in the drivers seat then it's going to (in practice) be run 24x7 to take advantage of not requiring rest breaks, food, time with family etc resulting in fewer cars doing more mileage. What's that going to do to the battery?

      (assuming 1k charges until dead)

      @ 1 charge per day = ~ 3 years life.

      @ 2 charges per day = ~ a year and a half life.

      @ 3 charges per day = 9 months life.

      And a thousand charges on a laptop you get what, optimistically 10% of the rated capacity of the battery? If the full charge at new is ~300miles then I'd imagine a 10% capacity (ie 30 mile range) would be a problem for an electric car so they'd require replacement at shorter intervals than my thousand charge rule of thumb. Regardless, I think the electric car companies are going to be making "this is for home use only" rules for the battery rentals if anybody did start using them in any real way and the battery rentals cost a couple of hundred quid a month for home users as it is (more than I pay for fuel doing the uk average mileage!) before adding the cost of the electricity to charge it with.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        Re: For inner cities/battery charge

        If you assume shared vehicles then its straightforward enough for them to return to a base for charging and flag themselves up as unavailable when the battery hits a trigger level. There'll need to be some smart logic in the system so that maximum numbers of vehicles are available and charged at times of peak demand, but this is scarcely conceptually difficult. I would see someone like TFL being the broker as it were for the service, and then private companies could tender to supply vehicles to TFL so there would be no monopoly supplier. If you like you can imagine 1st, 2nd and 3rd class cabs at different rates and other subtleties, but it out not be very different from a sort of self delivering and selfreturning Boris bike.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: For inner cities/battery charge

          Why do we have to have autonomous vehicles inside the city at all? Our goal is not to drive cars around London, it's to get people and things from one place to another. As the article briefly suggested, there might be other ideas that are more efficient and effective.

          I think moving sidewalks could be terribly effective for this if you can get some going 20 MPH. Just so long as there's still a way to make large deliveries.

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: Moving sidewalks

            That was an Asimov idea.

            You had a dozen walkways running in parallel where each successive 'track' ran faster than the previous, so you just walk across the tracks to one travelling at a reasonable speed for your length of journey, and then back down again when your stop was coming up.

            1. Vic

              Re: Moving sidewalks

              so you just walk across the tracks to one travelling at a reasonable speed for your length of journey

              That would give rise to a new game - betting on the number of people who fall over as they change track...

              Vic.

              1. Def Silver badge

                Re: Moving sidewalks

                Yeah, I'm not sure he really thought this one through when he came up with it. He mentioned the faster lanes were covered like train carriages and had seats, and kids used to play games that involved knocking each other into slower lanes to avoid capture, etc.

                I always imagined it like a super wide running track with spaced railings/hand holds in the centre of each track that extends around and through a town, with the 'expressways' (his term) as super fast tracks on the outside that linked towns and cities.

                I guess if it were designed right, it wouldn't be any different to stepping on and off an escalator. Albeit a super scary, bowel loosening escalator.

                Although given how well we manage to keep single escalators working, in reality it would be completely unusable for at least nine months of the year, and don't even think about it if there are leaves and/or snow flying around.

            2. I am the liquor

              Re: Moving sidewalks

              The roads must roll.

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Moving sidewalks

              "You had a dozen walkways running in parallel where each successive 'track' ran faster than the previous, so you just walk across the tracks to one travelling at a reasonable speed for your length of journey, and then back down again when your stop was coming up."

              How did they handle intersections?

              1. defiler Silver badge

                Re: Moving sidewalks

                "How did they handle intersections?"

                Tuck and roll.

            4. Whiskers

              Re: Moving sidewalks

              Not Asimov; H G Wells in 1898 "When the Sleeper Wakes" <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/775/775-h/775-h.htm#link2HCH0005> (re-written in 1910).

              1. Def Silver badge

                Re: Moving sidewalks

                I guess H.G. Wells was the inspiration for Asimov (Earth's cities had them in The Caves of Steel).

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: For inner cities/battery charge

          There'll need to be some smart logic a lot of investment in cars lying idle most of the day in the system so that maximum numbers of vehicles are available and charged at times of peak demand, but this is scarcely conceptually difficult.

          That's assuming "maximum numbers" means "enough to meet demand". A private motorist might be prepared to invest in a car that lies idle most of the time because the journeys they make in it are important enough to them to justify that. An investor is going to want RoI over a short enough period to make it worth while.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: For inner cities

        "it's going to (in practice) be run 24x7"

        In order to do this you're either going to have to even out demand or leave a lot of dissatisfied would-be punters at rush hour.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For inner cities

      > "...but automated interior cleaning would solve a lot of problems with multi use vehicles..."

      No need. Just make the interior entirely from hard plastic and then hose it out daily, or whenever the complaints become too loud.

  4. Ye Gads

    But nobody asked

    What I would do if I saw a line of Hare Krishna walking in a line...

    Gouranga!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

    But lets all ignore the fact a huge percentage of households have no way of charging them, nor are they likely to have them in the next few decades.

    Unless you have a garage or driveway, how is this supposed to happen.

    Lets take a typical road

    https://ixquick-proxy.com/do/spg/show_picture.pl?l=english&rais=1&oiu=http%3A%2F%2Fc8.alamy.com%2Fcomp%2FB31F7F%2Fa-row-of-terraced-houses-in-a-typical-street-in-the-london-suburb-B31F7F.jpg&sp=d918423f543325cd56fe6ee1c891916c

    Two hundred extension leads draped across the pavement?

    A floating 500 space car park with it's own substation to power it?

    I know, magic pixie dust.

    Let not even mention the power stations needed to generate all this extra electricity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

      I expect that out of town charging parks will spring up to service people with on street parking or simply no way to charge them at home. The car being autonomous can drive itself to the charging station and benefit from cheap night time electricity and be back to take its owner to work the next morning. Alternatively it could drive itself off to be charged whilst its owner is at work.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        @ AC: ...drive itself to the charging station and benefit from cheap night time electricity

        Flaw in argument: if the demand goes up much night time electricity will cease to be cheap.

        Second flaw in argument: where is the space where all these night - time charging stations can be installed?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

          "Second flaw in argument: where is the space where all these night - time charging stations can be installed?"

          Your vehicle is currently being charged in Didcot. It will be returned in 3 hours time and will have 3 miles usable range left after it has driven itself back to your address in East London.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

            @ Dr Syntax ..... "Second flaw in argument: where is the space where all these night - time charging stations can be installed?" Cinema car parks, town centre parking, retail parks .... you know all those big car parks that are packed full during the day and deserted at night.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

          @Commswonk ...... "Flaw in argument: if the demand goes up much night time electricity will cease to be cheap." That isn't a flaw in the argument. If the price goes up due to demand it shows that the scheme is working. Additionally we are making better use of night time power.

        3. JamesPond

          Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

          @Commswonk

          "Flaw in argument: if the demand goes up much night time electricity will cease to be cheap."

          - My electricity is the same price night or day, but the principle is sound in that fossil fuels are taxed at 20% VAT, household electric is 4% VAT, so there is going to be a big hole in the Government's finances.

          "Second flaw in argument: where is the space where all these night - time charging stations can be installed?"

          - Kerbside, or under the road via induction, or car parks that are mostly empty at night. If the cars are autonomous they can drive themselves to a car park, but presumably someone would have to be there to do the plugging in (at least 1 job created) unless the industry pushes induction charging.

          1. nijam

            Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

            > ...Kerbside, or under the road via induction...

            FFS, they can't even keep the roads reasonably well-maintained now.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

      "Let not even mention the power stations needed to generate all this extra electricity."

      More pixie dust Unicorns on treadmills.

      Why is it that when I read articles about how wonderful the future will be with all-electric/autonomous/both cars I start feeling as if I'm Dilbert having the PHB expounding the company's latest idea?

    3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

      Your point on power is difficult to refute - well at the moment, and given government competence for a wee while to come. On the trailing wires, a program to install kerbside chargers might just work (confession, I have just applied to be allowed to do so outside my Edinburgh house - subsidised at the moment anyway).

      1. JamesPond

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        kerbside or under-road induction.

        I've not had a full electric only vehicle but I hope the plug-in bit is idiot / darwin awards proof, lots of kerbside charging posts with trailing electric wires for the yuff to play with.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

          "kerbside or under-road induction."

          Frying eggs on the pavement...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        ". On the trailing wires, a program to install kerbside chargers might just work"

        On every street, in every village, town and city.

        Are we talking billions or trillions here?

      3. Vic

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        On the trailing wires, a program to install kerbside chargers might just work

        That would also imply free electricity / every charger having an accounting system, or it would mean everyone would need the *right* to park directly outside their own house. This does not currently happen.

        I can't always park in the same street as my house...

        Vic.

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

      A wind farm on every corner silly.....

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

      "Unless you have a garage or driveway, how is this supposed to happen."

      Elitists don't have to worry about that. The neighborhoods THEY live in don't have parking problems. And if they needed to park a car on the street, a 50' extension cord would do (because their neighbors aren't lining both sides of the street with 2nd and 3rd cars).

      Here in the USA it's similar. Many neighborhoods in large cities and beach areas have very little available 'on street' parking, and you might have to walk a block or two after you find a spot. If the houses are old, or were replaced with apartment buildings [that have only one parking spot per apartment], you'll see cars lining both sides of the street 7/24. Even in the nicer neighborhoods, people put RVs and 2nd/3rd cars on the street because the garage can't have both cars and the motorcycle and the jet ski and the RV all inside of it (and they all won't fit in the driveway either).

      So yeah, electric car charged inside the garage - for the "elite few". For everyone else, we'll stick with good old liquid fuel.

      1. Whiskers

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        > apartment buildings [that have only one parking spot per apartment], <

        As many as that? Where I am, there are more than 40 households and only 16 parking spaces - all on street. Parking only works because many households don't own any sort of road vehicle at all; something that has been a basic planning assumption for centuries. There are lock-up garages in the vicinity, but they seem to be used for storing something other than cars. Only the streets with low-rise housing on both sides have the luxury of a parking space for each household. (And the local authority charges for annual parking permits these days, too).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

          "Parking only works because many households don't own any sort of road vehicle at all; something that has been a basic planning assumption for centuries."

          Going back centuries... We'll count horses as vehicles. Some houses had garages stables. No change there. The rest walked to work and were able to do so because work places and homes were close together. In medieval and early modern urban settlements they were often the same thing.

          The transport problem arises because urban growth, exacerbated by post-war planning, has steadily increased the distance between home and workplaces. That's the underlying issue. Searching for better transport is solving the wrong problem.

          Obligatory Dilbert http://dilbert.com/strip/1998-10-13

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: "Electric vehicles are the obvious solution to that particular problem"

        Luxury! My old flat had no parking at all. There were 24 apartments and the only available parking was the disabled bays across the road (in fairness it was on a partial pedestrianised road but the nearest parking was 5 mins away and eye wateringly expensive).

        Glad I live in the sticks now where I can at least park on our community parking spots.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I do have an archtectural proposal.

    Single person pod delivered to your door fresh and charged every morning.

    Takes you to train station or work.

    Picked up,cleaned and if necessary recharged then available to take mom to shops to buy stuff for later delivery.

    Pod has high crash safety and hard upper speed limits. Yes it's transport as a service and hopefully a bit less fugly than the thing in the photo. Naturally it's all in the pricing of the service and the break even costing and ability to find enough electricity to recharge, mostly in the early hours.

    But humans being human I don't think it's got a cat in Hell's chance of happening.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I do have an archtectural proposal.

      But humans being human I don't think it's got a cat in Hell's chance of happening.

      Thank God. Sounds like the ghastly metropolitan dystopia that seems to be the wet dream of people dreaming up schemes of how the rest of us should live.

      How about we abolish cities, people live in human scale communities where they want, and we use the wonders of telecommunication and automation to avoid the need for millions of poor bastards having to live in crime ridden urban squalor, this apparently making up for the inability of society to use the technology already at its disposal?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "How about we abolish cities, people live in human scale communities where they want, and

        we use the wonders of telecommunication and automation to avoid the need for millions of poor bastards having to live in crime ridden urban squalor, this apparently making up for the inability of society to use the technology already at its disposal?"

        And you can have that all, provided you're prepared to carpet bomb every city in a country flat to implement it. that's the dirty little secret of most "utopias," they start with a destructive event on an epic scale.

        In London I'd start with all those empty "investment" flats bought off the plan by foreigners as bolt holes in case their mate, "El Presidente," The Great-And-Glorius-Leader or WTF the chief crook is called has to make a run for it.

        Utopias are a bigger fantasy than a dystopia. IRL life if you want that lifestyle you can have it now, if you're prepared to make the sacrifices and compromises necessary to do so, as Lester Haines did.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "How about we abolish cities, people live in human scale communities where they want, and

          And you can have that all, provided you're prepared to carpet bomb every city in a country flat to implement it. that's the dirty little secret of most "utopias," they start with a destructive event on an epic scale.

          Not necessarily although we've gone a long way to making that the only option. But let's stop the idea of building houses on "brownfield sites". Brownfield sites are sites where people used to be employed and often within walking distance of simple public transport distance of home. Step one would be to stop change of use of such sites as remain; developers would have to redevelop them as places of employment. Crafty use of business rates could encourage employers to move out of city centres to occupy them. This leaves some vacant space in buildings in the cities. Those spaces then get planning permission for change of use to residential for those who want to work in the remaining in-city businesses.

          Draconian? Overblown? No more so than the decades of planning policy that brought about the present mess. Make no mistake about it, the situation we have now has been planned. Not intended but planned.

  7. vir

    That Transport Pod...

    ...is visually unacceptable.

  8. Dwarf Silver badge

    Marketing Waffle

    Come back when there is a viable alternative that works reliably at the distances and frequencies that I need to travel, when I don't need to plug it in outside in the street every day, and when they stop looking like some 5 year old's view of what a car might look like and offer me more than I've got already.

    Realise that cars are handy for getting a lot of people around in comfort with all the stuff they carry in their boots - luggage, tools and other work related stuff.

    Come back when you have something viable. In the mean time, stop dreaming and wasting our time.

    1. vir
      Coat

      Re: Marketing Waffle

      Luggage? Tools? "Work related stuff"? Surely, in this connected economy, a laptop is the only thing you need to bring with you in your transport pod (plus a coffee, obviously). As for the "laboring class", I heard Elon talking about making a truck?

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Things like [Crossrail] start to make sense: 160m long trains, 30 trains per hour each carrying 1,500 people."

    Fine if you want to travel from somewhere near a station on thing like Crossrail to somewhere near another station on same thing like Crossrail. If you want to travel to somewhere on another line sharing a station with the first line it gets less convenient. By the time you've made a couple of changes of line it gets distinctly unpleasant.

    1. JamesPond
      Pirate

      @Doctor Syntax

      "By the time you've made a couple of changes of line it gets distinctly unpleasant."

      Getting on the first train is distinctly unpleasant, rubbing shoulders and viruses with the great unwashed. I did 10 years commuting daily by train in the UK and can categorically state the following facts:

      a) 2 out of 10 trains per week were late or cancelled.

      b) I've never had as many colds or influenza before or since. From Oct-Apr every year, every day someone on the train would be sneezing in close proximity without using a tissue or handkerchief to catch the spray.

      c) 5 out of 10 trains per week I had to stand for at least 50% of a 50 mile journey.

      I'm sure that is quite good compared to what I hear Southern Rail is like these days in the UK.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        "I'm sure that is quite good compared to what I hear Southern Rail is like these days in the UK."

        I rode the 'Coaster' train in southern california for a couple of years, to avoid the hideous traffic that drives me bat-guano insane. At first they tried to make it attractive, by including bus service that didn't leave you waiting very long. After a couple of years, It was taking LONGER for bus ride + waiting for the train going home than it took to DRIVE THE TRIP MYSELF. So I stopped using the train. The discourteous public smokers and "the great unwashed" weren't enough reason to quit the train on their own. Taking MORE TIME than driving to ride the bus and wait for the train to go home - THAT was the straw that broke the camel's back.

        (this was done to "make sure" the busses would arrive on time for the train. It started out with them getting you to the station 5 to 10 minutes ahead of the schedule, but occasional screwups in which they'd have to get a special bus to take everyone to their train destination motivated "the powers that be" to make you wait 25 minutes instead, so THEIR asses would be covered)

        and after quitting the train, and an additional year of driving in traffic 30 minutes each way (driving me NUTS with slowpokes and asshats unnecessarily getting in my way), I'd had enough of that and stopped working there (to preserve what was left of my sanity)...

      2. Ogi

        @JamesPond

        Indeed, I had the same experience as you on public transport (and alas 13 years in, still am experiencing it), minus the cancelled trains. TFL tube has had cancellations, but not to the same level. On the flip side, standing is about 95% of the time on it.

        I would add there is also the added worry of being mugged or killed. On the bus I take to my station, a guy was murdered by a recently released mental patient. Out of the blue, guy coming back from his commute, just like that. Guy sat behind the victim, and slit his throat because "the voices told him to". Didn't even say anything. I have to say I got quite nervous after that, especially when people sat behind me. Ignoring the bombings and other attacks that hit public transport links too, which didn't help matters.

        Then you get all kinds of people, alcoholics, drug users, people who are rude, who spit at you, or just try to get into a fight. On the bus at least there is the driver, and a few times he has stopped the bus and thrown people out, but still a very unpleasant experience. A few times a fist fight would kick off as well, which is always fun, especially if you can't get out of the way in time.

        The tube is worse because there is nobody there to deal with problems, and the other passengers will just ignore whatever is happening in the hope they are not next. Your best bet is to avoid anything kicking off before the next station, then get off and hope the other person doesn't follow you. If they do then just make a beeline to one of the security people in the station.

        Quite frankly, if I could get a parking spot at work I would switch to a car in a heartbeat. Even sitting in rush hour traffic is better. At least there I am secure in my own little pod, I can turn on the air-con, sit in a comfy seat, put on some nice music on the radio, and chill. Sure it may take longer, but overall the experience is far more pleasant. I didn't originally get why people are willing to waste their time and money in such traffic, but a decade of commuting later (and a short consulting stint where I actually commuted by car) I now fully understand.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "2 out of 10 trains per week were late or cancelled."

        You were lucky. I used to commute from High Wycombe back when the Chiltern line used DMUs. As far as I could make out the outbound trains ran on no schedule, but depended on them finding enough working units to make a train. For fun they also tended to despatch a stopping service before an alleged non-stopping service. The tracks where the latter might pass a stopped train in stations such as Wembley had been taken up so no chance there. Mentioning Wembley reminds me that there were no extra trains for the extra crowds when there was an evening match.

        Then there was the occasion when for some reason, one train came up behind another, somewhere like Penn and the two trains were coupled together to make one which was too long for the platforms. After a long while stationary at Wycombe those of us in the rear coaches eventually opened the doors and jumped out.

        Being relocated to a location where commuting by car was a big relief.

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      As Clarkson once said.

      The problem with public transport is that it goes from somewhere I don't live to somewhere that I don't want to go.

      A car on the other hand .. Well, it was a broadly car themed show.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rare Earth Elements

    The mining pits in China to pull out all the required rare earth elements for a fleet of autonomous electric vehicles will be spectacular. Guess there's no harm to the environment with all that digging or is that not our problem since that's handled overseas and out of sight? Of course how does one dispose of the depleted batteries as well for these vehicles, maybe we can toss them all back into the giant hole where the minerals came from?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rare Earth Elements

      Rare Earth Element aren't all that rare. We only use small quantities of them too. Supply exceeds demand and will do for decades. Once supply tightens there are many other sources in the world besides China.

      Recovering the lithium out of depleted batteries isn't hard and will be done because it's cheaper than mining new deposits or extracting it from seawater.

  11. JamesPond
    Mushroom

    Socially Unacceptable, really?

    "Electric driverless cars could make petrol and diesel motors 'socially unacceptable'"

    Firstly, I don't see what the driverless part of this has to do with the argument. Is the writer suggesting that manually driving a car will be socially unacceptable?

    Secondly, why is petrol / diesel more socially unacceptable than electric? No one seems to consider where or how the raw materials for the batteries are mined; where is the power coming from to charge these millions of electric cars? what happens to the batteries when they are scrapped?

    Whilst electric cars may not be directly pumping out gases on our 1st world streets, it doesn't mean there isn't an environmental cost to electric cars.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

    I'm not against either electric or driverless cars, they will both have their uses but they are not the great panacea to all our ills.

    1. nijam

      Re: Socially Unacceptable, really?

      > No one seems to consider where or how the raw materials for the batteries are mined; where is the power coming from to charge these millions of electric cars?

      Somebody else's problem, mate.

  12. Herby Silver badge

    Acceptable??

    Let someone try a nice electric car and have it travel across the state of Nevada in one go. That's 400+ miles of nice comfy desert on Interstate 80.

    My mom did it in four hours once (it was a while ago), but in an electric car, I don't think so in anything less than around 10 hours. A practical vehicle can do it in around 6 hours, and it DOES require a petrol/gas stop along the way. No, I don't want to stay a night in Elko!

    Yes, when my mom did it, the speed limit in Nevada was "Resume speed, thank you". No longer (*SIGH*).

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Acceptable??

      That's an exceptional use case, though, and it's these which are always wheeled out against electric cars, small cars, anything that makes less mess than the Mustang they have their eye on.

      "I can't carry a cement mixer in it."

      "I can't drive 400 miles without having to stop for a 2-hour charge"

      "I want to be able to sit 19 kids in it"

      "I want to be able to drive at 120mph"

      <insert other fringe use scenario here>

      The truth is that for *most* people, a couple of hundred miles range is fine. And for most of the rest, a couple of hundred miles range is fine for *most* of the time. The trick is finding something to fill out these fringe cases. And usually it's not something you need to *own*.

      Also, your mum could drive across Nevada (322 miles) in a Tesla Model S without stopping due to its 300-380 mile range. Although admittedly that's a fringe-case car then.

      I bemoan my commute regularly, but I can easily get 40 miles into the range of the crappiest G-Whiz or whatever. And even a "long" drive for me is a couple of hundred miles. Maybe once a year I'll need more range than that, and I don't consider myself exceptional in that regard.

  13. nilfs2
    Boffin

    Autonomous and electric cars are not "a real" solution

    It just moves the problem somewhere else, electric cars do eliminate the pollution caused by internal combustion engine vehicles, the problem is that in order to produce those vehicles, raw materials have to be sourced and that process causes a whole lot more pollution, along with that, the manufacturing process pollutes a lot as well and you have to think that a lot of countries don't have a renewable and clean source of energy to charge the batteries of those cars, even worst when you add to that the planned obsolescence model on which those vehicles are made, use them for 4 or 5 years and throw away, which means, more waste!

    Autonomous vehicles won't solve the traffic jams, they could actually become worst, lots of people that where not able to drive because of a physical disability, or where just afraid or didn't to drive will be able to buy a car and add one more to the traffic chaos!

    We have to admit that cars are not a reasonable transportation solution for today's urban situation, city's residential and comercial zones layout is also an issue, it force people get displaced far away from home, so do the need to go to the office to work when you could do the same job from home.

    Another problem is the "social status" that cars represent on today's culture, on lots of countries and cities around the world, traveling on public transportation is seen as a "poor people's" behavior, and the security problem in some cities where you can't walk peacefully on the streets without running a high risk of being mugged, raped or killed; forcing many people to buy a car to stay safe.

  14. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Electric vehicles everywhere

    Where's my thousands of nuclear reactors and Plutonium reprocessing plants at, green punk?

  15. Tom 64

    I already consider diesel socially unacceptable

    It stinks, its dirty, the fumes are toxic and the dust carcinogenic. The sooner we get this shit out of our cities, the better.

    1. Ben1892

      Re: I already consider diesel socially unacceptable

      Exactly this, we should be fighting the NOx's and particulates caused by "efficient" diesels ( if they are so efficient how come all that soot then ? )

      1. defiler Silver badge

        Re: I already consider diesel socially unacceptable

        I never see soot coming out of my diesel. The Volvo I got stuck behind on Wednesday, on the other hand... I suspect that sooty diesels are either (a) broken, or (b) have some lead-footed neanderthal at the wheel.

        You want to race? Take it to a track.

        1. Vic

          Re: I already consider diesel socially unacceptable

          I suspect that sooty diesels are either (a) broken, or (b) have some lead-footed neanderthal at the wheel.

          The big clouds of soot you see are a result of over-fuelling; this usually occurs on turbodiesels when the turbo is stalled and the driver puts his foot down - the diesel pump puts in enough fuel for the expected air mass, but the air isn't there...

          More modern turbodiesels don't put in as much fuel until the pressure sensor determines that the turbo is blowing. This leads to far less smoke from the exhaust.

          Vic.

  16. EveryTime Silver badge

    I wonder what the "trolley problem" has to do with the story?

    Not that the ethical thought experiment has much to do with reality. Vanishingly few people have knowingly encountered a similar situation, and even fewer automated vehicles will do so. And when they do, there won't be an "ethical decision matrix" to guide them through. They will follow the simple rule of avoiding the (most) imminent collision and/or minimizing the collision severity.

  17. Jim84

    Batteries are expensive and take longer than 5 min to charge

    Maybe science will overcome the above problems, but until it does battery cars will remain marginal.

    The real future cars could run on ammonia produced by nuclear reactors. Current ammonia is produced from Methane natural gas and doesn't have any real advantages (cost or otherwise) over petrol. A 4th generation melt down proof cheaper molten salt nuclear reactor such as Moltex Energy's with an output salt temperature over 500 degrees Celsius could produce ammonia much more cheaply.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Batteries are expensive and take longer than 5 min to charge

      How the holy hell do you run on ammonia?

      It might be useful as reaction mass for space-going vehicles (like in 2001), but on Earth?

      It's highly toxi and volatile, too.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "How the holy hell do you run on ammonia?"

        Easy.

        Use it in a fuel cell.

        In the 1960 Phillips built an electric bike running on Hydrazine, which is a cousin of Ammonia.

        It's also toxic in WMD levels of exposure.

        I'd agree a liquid fuel is the way to go. My ideal choice would be sugar soln in a fuel cell. Grow plant, chop up, add water, warm up a bit, filter then pour into tank.

        1. Jim84

          Re: "How the holy hell do you run on ammonia?"

          You can burn ammonia in an internal combustion engine, Just convert 2% of it to hydrogen in the final tank at the gas station (this avoids the need for infrastructure capable of transporting hydrogen).

          Using carbon rather than nitrogen as a transport for hydrogen requires massive amounts of biomatter.

          Ammonia is dangerous, but no more dangerous than petrol.

          For more detail see:

          https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/10/lot-of-nuclear-energy-could-enable.html

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The man thing...

    The problem is, you have guys like me. We are always going to be your problem while we grunt and drive our cars.

    For you see, I love the smell of the exhaust fumes coming out that V8 engine as you rev it to hear that beautiful rumble coming out of the 1967 ford mustang engine while you grunt each time you rev the engine.

    I love using my tools to work on the car and of course there's the driving, just cruising along in your car taking in the views while listening to born to be wild.

    They call us car enthusiasts, but soon we will be the enemy, soon we will be terrorists causing pollution on earth, you'll have to pry those keys out of my cold dead hands.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: The man thing...

      Although Jay Leno said that the car saved the horse. They stopped becoming work tools and started being instruments of leisure.

      If 99% of the cars on the road were electric, and the other 1% were cosseted classics, I'd be delighted and the air would be cleaner (provided the electricity were clean).

      At least then you'd know that a noisy car would also be a visual treat instead of an 18-year-old in his mum's Corsa with holes punched in the exhaust and a liberal approach to the accelerator.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: The man thing...

      Lafferty's "Interurban Queen" was a short story with a very Progressive Obamite/Hillarite Outlook:

      “Lafferty depicts an America where electric interurban transport had won out over the automobile, which the group-centred interurbanites have outlawed. The picture he paints is of a friendly, idyllic land free of urban blight, agriculture and industry being blended into lovely, evenly-populated “quasiurbia”, unified by convenient public transport. But it is also a land where competition having yielded completely to cooperation, the individualist and the loner are not tolerated; and those who persist in driving bootleg cars are considered incorrigible menaces to society, whom it is the duty of all right-thinking citizens to shoot on sight in approved vigilante manner. What makes “Interurban Queen” so remarkable, though, is the incredible tonal balance with which Lafferty handles the two sides of this question: I cannot tell, even with inside knowledge of Lafferty's personal politics, where his sympathies lie — probably a historic first in s-f of this type.”

      —Sheryl Smith, Riverside Quarterly Vol. 7 No. 2 (1982)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The man thing...

      So while you compensate for something with your v8, thousands die each year due to the crap you and others spew out of ICE exhausts. Thousands more suffer poor health. Damn right you are the enemy, but you keep playing with your spanner mate.

  19. nilfs2

    The ideal outcome...

    ...will be that people won't buy a car because they don't need it and would make no sense owning one, like Joe Average buying a tractor not being a farmer neither owning a farm.

  20. briesmith

    The Easier Way

    Is diverting the R&D spend of the motor industry into electric vehicles a mistake? We know or, at least, I think we know that current battery technology cannot work; the batteries don't last long enough to be cost effective. And charging is an impossibility because the only methods we have currently can't scale.

    We can have electric milk floats, and Harrods vans, because they can build depots with sufficient charging endurance - they are lead/acid not li on - and servicing/maintenance capabilities. Those of us in multi-occupancy buildings will never have access to our "own" charging point and the thought of throwing away a perfectly good vehicle after 5 years because it wasn't cost effective to replace the batteries is never going to fly with the motoring public.

    Shouldn't the effort be going into removing the polluting parts of the internal combustion engine process? Solving that seems to be to be so much easier that making battery driven cars work. The fuel technologists, the carburation technologists, the engine technologists, the exhaust system technologists all working together must be odds on to solve the pollution aspect surely?

    Heavy lorries with diesel engines (both the very latest designs and those retrofitted with emissions controls) are already pollution free pretty much. Cars could follow if the inefficiency of the method used on lorries could be reduced. Is this not the road we should be going down?

  21. HKmk23

    I would think possibly

    That all it would take is one really good lightning storm (EMP) and everyone will be walking home (forever?)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019