back to article Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

New research anticipates congestion problems as owners of self-driving cars allow their steeds to prowl the streets instead of forking out for parking charges. The paper by Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, was published in the rivetingly named " …

  1. Tim Greenwood

    Possible answer ?

    Bicycles ?

    Just a thought.

    1. msknight Silver badge

      Re: Possible answer ?

      Adapt the underground for unicyclists.

      Replace the trains with a conveyor belt that a unicycle slots into, and rides the track to the next station. They'll need to lift their legs, of course, or else the peddles will repeatedly whack them in the shins.

      People can get exercise by riding their unicycle in a holding position while at their standing desks. Lifts between floors will be interesting.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Possible answer ?

        bicycles. what a great idea. with a sidecar and trailer I could put all my gear in there for the day.

        If it gets a bit hard in winter I could even think about external power somehow for the wheels.

        Or maybe if i need more gear that day i could have external power and some kind of covered storage cabin.

  2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    Gaming the system.

    Is a risk with most AIs or "maths" being involved. Also known as card counting. ;)

    The casino always wins, until it messes up!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Gaming the system.

      What sort of moron would bankrupt a casino multiple times?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Gaming the system.

        Casinos (in namesake) cannot lose. They are a charity if they mess up *their* game rules.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Gaming the system.

      Exactly what they proposed:

      To alleviate Khan's taxing concerns, Millard-Ball's paper suggests a new charging model: "A time-based charge for occupying the public right-of-way, whether parked or in motion."

      Simply moves the incentives to create congestion away from the JohnnyCab and onto TFL.

  3. Wellyboot Silver badge

    I said that!

    >>>New research anticipates congestion problems as owners of self-driving cars allow their steeds to prowl the streets instead of forking out for parking charges.<<<

    I said as much a few months ago. The Reg must be a goto research tool these days.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: I said that!

      Yeah, it's a pretty obvious problem that has been discussed on here before. The trouble is, before solving it, we need to work out what the best policy goals should be.

      Is it better to encourage the cars to go home and sit outside their owner's houses all day? Or to provide massive, cheap, all-day parking at some out-of-town location with good links back into town? Or to encourage people to not own one of these but just use them as automated taxis, so once they arrive at work the car goes off carrying people around the city?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: I said that!

        Original story

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/17/selfdriving_cars_will_be_safe_were_testing_them_in_a_massive_ai_sim/

        My posting.

        Rental AI cars: After a few weeks of use will turn up stinking of old takeaways, filled with detritus and having suspect damp patches on the seats because unlike a taxi theres nobody stopping it from happening or cleaning it afterwards.

        Having your own AI car: It disappearing off to find a parking space will only work if the car parks are cheaper than just orbiting the area. Orbiting will quickly increase traffic levels to gridlock point in any city.

        Maintenance of AI cars: How will they take themselves off for repair after a water filled pothole has rearranged the front suspension while it was looking for a parking space.

        This is a completely new transport paradigm, it just happens to have a superficial resemblance to the existing systems. Fitting it into our cities will take decades and a large body count just like adding rail and cars did.

        But we all know that planning won't happen until it's too late to fix properly.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: I said that!

          The mistake I think you are making is that every transport paradigm shift creates new jobs.

          Currently the way taxi firms work is that someone takes the calls and schedules the taxis. Uber thinks the solution to that is to get rid of the call scheduler.

          But somebody is going to have to oversee the welfare of self driving taxis. What's wrong with Uber's idea is that it is backwards. Self driving taxis will create new part time jobs as remote taxi operators, just as drones have created the job of remote wedding party bomber pilot.

          When you enter a self driving taxi your credit card has been validated already. There will be sensors. There will be cameras. If anything remotely odd happens the human operator will be called and intervene. Anything nasty and you will be billed. Possibly there will be a condom and tissue dispenser.

          There will be a new trade of self driving taxi maintainer - perhaps again part time and open to anyone with their own driveway. Self driving taxi rescuers.

          They will all still work out cheaper than having taxis manned all the time, and like call centres the taxi operators will be able to employ disabled people.

          There will be a new offence of allowing a self driving taxi to be used while dirty or unsafe.

          These things are all soluble using established legal frameworks and systems. They won't be done by Silicon Valley because its "disruptive" technologies are purely based around exploiting people.

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: I said that!

            Err... 'soluble' - I hope not.

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: I said that!

          Fitting it into our cities will take decades and a large body count just like adding rail and cars did.

          Please, won't somebody think of the horses!

      2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: I said that!

        Taxis.

        (Said by no carmakers, of course).

        A self driving taxi should be good for half a million miles. The biggest problem is peak periods caused by work patterns evolved in the days when factory machinery required constant attention. We'll have to train people in the idea that when Thatcher said anybody over 26 who used public transport was a failure, she might have been a touch influenced by Denis's seat on the board of Burmah.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: I said that!

          A politician possibly motivated by self interest? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. /sarc

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I said that!

          So what about taxis?

          We already have plenty for ad-hoc journeys, but for commuting purposes they're no solution because prevailing commuter flows are overwhelmingly one way. All that a self driving taxi does is do away with a job for somebody. The chances of ending up with materially more efficient utilisation through multiple use are low, because the transport need is not constant in time or space. That applies whether a car is privately owned, rented, shared, or a taxi. And it applies to buses and trains.

          The problem of metropolitan transport is that big cities don't lend themselves to efficient transport, and the bigger they get, the worse the problems become. I suspect this is a mathematical inevitability caused by the increasing permutation of possible journeys as distances and populations of the city increase (and its broadly backed up by the international comparisons of Inrix). This is evident even in the new build cities of the Gulf region, where money for public transport and roads appears limitless, and they can build on all the experience of city congestion elsewhere. So Dubai drivers spend almost as much time in traffic as do Brummies, despite Birmingham having invested trivial amounts in transport for fifty years, whereas Dubai has invested billions, built almost from scratch, and done that using cheap (perhaps exploited) labour.

          1. Persona

            Re: I said that!

            A self driving taxi is still profitable with a low duty cycle.as you don't have a driver sitting there idle for most of the time who still needs paying.

            1. ICPurvis47
              Headmaster

              Re: I said that!

              When I was taxi driving in order to supplement my grant, I didn't get paid for sitting at the rank, I was only paid a percentage of the fares I collected. The useful bit was that, when sitting at the rank, I could get out my college books and continue to study or write my thesis.

          2. c1ue

            Re: I said that!

            Cities in Asia - Tokyo and others - have shown that public transportation, both rail and bus, can work just fine.

            The issue is density. Cities with low density - the existence of public transport is irrelevant. Cities with high(er) density - insufficient coverage of public transport, poorly maintained/operated/designed public transport, etc will still yield poor transport scores.

            Self driving autos don't fix anything. Beyond the orbiting to avoid parking, the real issue is that any form of shared vehicle paradigm requires more miles per passenger transport mile than personal car use.

            Bicycles aren't really a solution either - at least in cities with cars. You either have lots of dead bicyclists, lots of slow bicyclists or you have really, really slow drives. The bicycles simply cannot operate in an environment optimized for car transport, for example, because their usual top speeds and acceleration profiles are significantly slower than autos. This disparity is also why so many bicyclists run red lights - they end up stopping almost every block because the cars will have gone (traffic lights synced for cars) or else simply run the lights, and a bicyclist has to spend sweat to get up to speed.

            1. TechDrone

              Re: I said that!

              When I used to cycle to work, red lights in the outer suburbs were great as it gave me an excuse to stop and get my breath back. In the center the ones along Regent Street were the best as on a green light the cars would go screaming off as fast as they could, only to get caught at the next set when I would calmly pedal up just in time for them to go green again. A few times I was able to race our senior counsel along there, him on shiny turbo-nutter RC45 jobbie and me on some clapped-out Halfords hand-me-down.

        3. JimC Silver badge

          Re: when Thatcher said

          There seems to be considerable doubt that she ever said it...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: when Thatcher said

            Yes, I now see that it is unverified.

            In my defence I can only say that I have in the past had considerable doubts about people who claimed that Thatcher never made some crass remark. That's because I have been repeatedly assured that she never said "there is no such thing as society..." whereas I actually had a recording of the speech where she said it.

            Regardless of whether she made the public transport remark, a lot of Conservatives, in my experience, are rather anti any public transport that doesn't get them to and from central London. It's that prejudice that I was mentioning.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: when Thatcher said

              That's because I have been repeatedly assured that she never said "there is no such thing as society..." whereas I actually had a recording of the speech where she said it.

              Yes, and mostly no.

              What you don't have is a recording of Lady T saying "There is no such thing as society." Which is how the left present it ad-finitum.

              What you might have, is a recording of Lady T saying "And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours." Which is very much not how the quote is presented by politicking lefties.

              I'm not sure which bit it is they object to, because she was absolutely right.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I said that!

          "Margret Thatcher said....." [citation needed]

        5. Dig

          Re: I said that!

          Always good to make up quotes by Thatcher, or almost any politician nowadays. Guess it keeps the distrust and vitriol going eh.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I said that!

            "Always good to make up quotes by Thatcher, or almost any politician nowadays. Guess it keeps the distrust and vitriol going eh."

            I was in a conversation with someone and mentioned something Thatcher said. The response was "oh, history, I wasn't born then". <gulp>

      3. Persona

        Re: I said that!

        The massive out of town car parks will also double as charging stations for the people who can't charge their car at home.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: I said that!

          ... also double as charging stations for the people who can't charge their car at home

          Two problems with that :

          The first is purely practical - at the moment they don't have automated plug-in and unplug. Though I guess that could probably be solved.

          The other is a bit more difficult. Work out the power requirement of a large scale car park with lots of charging stations - and you're looking at MASSIVE investment in getting the power there. And lets not mention the need for a sh*tload of additional low/zero carbon generating capacity which in practice means a good few new nuclear power stations ...

          In both cases (robotic connections and the power supply), that massive investment will need to be recovered - so these will not be inexpensive car parks to use.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I said that!

            "And lets not mention the need for a sh*tload of additional low/zero carbon generating capacity which in practice means a good few new nuclear power stations ..."

            Speaking of which, did everyone here (in the UK anyway) also notice the almost complete lack of wind this last 7 or so days as we went through our coldest part of the year? None of those wind power generators were turning which means 99.9% of electrcity came from fossil or nuclear sources. (I'll allow for a possible small amount of solar)

            (yes, left pondians, I know -14c is nothing compared to what some of you just went through)

            1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
              Facepalm

              "...complete lack of wind this last 7 or so days..."

              Must be a fluke, that could never happen most winters...

              Wait, what?

            2. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: I said that!

              >>Small amount of solar<< ? 4" of snow here put paid to that!

              Hours of brilliant sunshine and not enough electric generated to make a cuppa.

            3. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: I said that!

              which means 99.9% of electrcity came from fossil or nuclear sources.

              Last year the government published a report suggesting that tidal power could provide 20% of the UK's energy needs, steady and predictable. The government has rightly funded a lot of research which has made the UK the world leader in tidal power innovation, but has shown little interest investing in successful trial projects to turn them into industrially-useful generating plants. Consequently researchers and tidal engineering companies are heading abroad.

              You'd like to think the government would be able to figure out a way for this work to become a lasting functional benefit to the country, but they seem too bogged down in That Other Matter.

      4. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: I said that!

        Or to encourage people to not own one of these but just use them as automated taxis, so once they arrive at work the car goes off carrying people around the city?

        In the unlikely event these ever work properly (actually driverless), I'm kitting mine out like a home office & games room. Sharing it with last nights kebab sodden rutting yoot isn't going to be a thing I'm afraid.

  4. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Terminator

    I for one welcome our self-driving, congestion causing, robotic vehicle overlords. May they gridlock our potholed streets and destroy all life on the high street in peace if that is their wish.

    1. teknopaul Bronze badge

      It will be a long time before automated vehicles are permitted to drive without a human in charge. Plenty of tesla drivers think their cars are automatic including some dead ones.

      Automated taxis service will have a backoffice 24hr and a towing system for breakdowns.

      Tesla owners wont so they wont be allowed to circle their cars with no one responsible for it actions or lack therof.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        In a nutshell you have laid the foundations of future legislation to deny humans any involvement in directing a speeding tonne of lethal weapon in public spaces.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Helloo, im Johnny cab! Where can I take you tonight?

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Go

        RE: Danny

        To the red light district buddy! We have to pick up two people i haven't met yet.

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    The 2000 AD solution

    As far as I remember, this wouldn't happen in Judge Dredd's American "Mega City One" because the roads are already congested with mobile homes driving around while people live in them, due to the housing shortage.

    It does make some sense for self driving cars to go quite a long way away from your destination to park, especially now that you may be taxed for a car parking space at work. Just driving round and round, though, is cheating. Not playing the game.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: The 2000 AD solution

      IIRC didn't Sydney have a similar problem in that many people would live in such mobile homes, spend all day down at Bondi and then have the bloody cheek to go park up in all the exclusive suburbs of the city for free overnight parking? Can't blame them for doing so. Obviously the multi millionaire residents complained like shit.

      And the response by the people's representatives? Typically, ban the practice.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The 2000 AD solution

      Perfect - self driving mobile homes. solves the parking problem and the housing problem.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: The 2000 AD solution

      the roads are already congested with mobile homes driving around while people live in them, due to the housing shortage.

      Yup - my self driving office / games room might not be the same physical size as my current daily driver. I'm more envisaging a living room on wheels.

      My public transport currently takes twice as long to get to work than it did 2 or 3 years ago (train), so if I'm going to spend so long getting to and from work, then I might as well convert that time into something useful or enjoyable.

  6. 100113.1537

    Congestion is about work not transport

    London is a lovely place to get around - either using pubic transport or driving - outside the daily congestion peaks due to people getting to and from work. By making travel difficult and expensive at these times there is an incentive to switch your work habits - a market-driven solution to the problem which is already being followed by a goodly portion of the workforce. There is no actual pay-off to making work commutes any better or faster in the already congested time-periods as this will simply increase the number of people who will then commute at these times. Witness the increase in traffic every time a new road or expanded transit system is introduced - up to the point that the commute time becomes the same limiting factor and the people who get most fed up find a way to avoid it (tele-commuting, flexi-hours etc.).

    Bottom line: City planning will never reduce commute times in the long term, no matter how good the planners are at modelling.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Congestion is about work not transport

      "Bottom line: City planning will never reduce commute times in the long term, no matter how good the planners are at modelling."

      But I WILL still spend 40 hours in City Skylines/SimCity 4 trying!

    2. Duffy Moon

      Re: Congestion is about work not transport

      " By making travel difficult and expensive at these times there is an incentive to switch your work habits "

      A shame that most do not have much choice - other than not to take a 9 to 5 job. Then you have to explain to the lovely folks at the Jobcentre why you didn't take it - "well I didn't want to add to the congestion".

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Congestion is about work not transport

        "A shame that most do not have much choice - other than not to take a 9 to 5 job. "

        I wonder how many 9-5 jobs actually need to be 9-5? I don't mean multiple companies suddenly deciding to switch to an 8-4 or 10-6 day, but individuals within companies choosing their working hours within the restrictions of the business and not actual flexi-time, coming and going as they please. I mean actual structured 7-8 hour days with fixed start and end times between 6-11am to 3-7pm. The business would be open for longer and I'm sure most departments could operate with fewer staff at the start and end of the new "longer" day.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Congestion is about work not transport

          In my experience, the limiting factor to how 'flexi' your working day can be is the need to interact with your co-workers. Skype meetings and such are fine for those who can work from home, but if you start at 6am and finish at 2, and your colleage starts at 11am and finishes at 7, that leaves only a few hours in the midde of the day when interaction can happen, and if you actually need to have a meeting, or $deity forbid, several meetings in a day, for those things that you can't send an email about and deal with the next day, the window for interaction gets filled up quickly. In practice, this means that "start between 6am and 11am" quickly becomes "start between 8 and 10", then "start between 8:30 and 9:30", and you're back to rush-hour congestion again.

          In my mind, the solution here is a compromise between some flexible working, with reasonable core hours in which people can have meetings, and as much working from home as is practically possible. Face-to-face meetings are sometimes unavoidable, but these days with fast broadband internet in most (non-rural) places where people actually live, video-conferencing is suitable for most needs. Of course, it depends on the nature of the work you do. If you're an order-picker in a warehouse (and your job hasn't yet been taken by a robot), you're not going to get to do a lot of working from home.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Congestion is about work not transport

            Basically if your job involves 'meetings' it isn't actually a job. Jobs involve hewing, sowing or other crafty things. But don't tell my boss....

    3. Claverhouse Bronze badge

      Re: Congestion is about work not transport

      London is a lovely place to get around - either using pubic transport or driving - outside the daily congestion peaks due to people getting to and from work. By making travel difficult and expensive at these times there is an incentive to switch your work habits

      The trouble is pubic transport already is difficult and expensive.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Congestion is about work not transport

      The limiting factor in my city, Bristol, is we have a huge shortage of bus drivers, and a bus company that has a love of money that goes beyond reasonable highway robbery.

      Bristol, like every city in the world, has loads of space to accommodate a modern transport solution, just not at ground level.

      An above the rooftops network of cable cars would even drive tourism.

      Hell, we spanned a gorge with 200 year old technology that's still working as designed, so surely the task cannot be beyond us, just the politics of how many grubby councellor's hands need to be in the pot before it gets the go-ahead.

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Congestion is about work not transport

        "Bristol"

        Now that Ikea has a branch in Exeter, I no longer have any need of Bris'l 8)

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Congestion is about work not transport

        Free and frequent (and covering many routes) public transport would make a huge difference in the UK to many commutes.

        Prices often so high people think they may as well drive.

        It would mean subsidies to travel companies but would give overall benefits to society.*

        Possibly coupled with peak time car use fees for those who continue to drive the whole commute (instead of just driving to nearest suitable public transport point if no public transport point in walking distance)

        *Ironically this passenger subsidy already happens in most places - just that it is for pensioners only who get free travel at certain times of day.

        Good public transport (i.e. where you can actually get a seat!) has benefits in that you can read, catch up with social media, do a bit of work, chat to people etc. (whatever you prefer) - instead of having to focus on driving along congested roads, so its more relaxing (unless you find stop - start traffic jam driving relaxing!).

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Congestion is about work not transport

        Bristol, like every city in the world, has loads of space to accommodate a modern transport solution, just not at ground level.

        I totally agree. There are many times I have travelled to other European cities of a similar size to Bristol, which seem to have working, cheap and efficient metro systems (for example, Barcelona, Porto, Naples) .

        Of course, the difference there is that someone has been willing to spend the money on the transport system (which our austerity-obsessed government is not going to do). However, you only have to look at the troubles that some of these places have had (Naples in particular) to be forewarned of what can go wrong.

        Porto is an interesting example. A city which has many things in common with Bristol - it's an old city, so has the issues with digging archaeology up that you get in an old city. It's hilly (moreso even than Bristol), so has the issues of deep stations, and surface sections of track. It also has half the population of Bristol. If a metro system can work there, why the hell can't it be done here? Any of the problems I can think of that Bristol may have are bigger problems there.

      4. Jim84

        Re: Congestion is about work not transport

        Cable cars - have the problem that the wheels are clamped around the cable, making track switching difficult or impossible.

        If instead you create a micro monorail and drive the hanging gondolas along on wheels from what is basically an ultra thin road... then you have reached the concept of PRT - personal rapid transit.

        Two things held back PRT in the past. 1. You’ve go to build a decent network to make it worthwhile to use. 2. Olden time 1970s designs relied on every pod/gondola in the city being controlled by a central computer that knew exactly where they all were at all times. If the central computer or communications network went down then an entire city would grind to a halt. Self driving car tech solves this problem. The first one requires political will, but might get a toehold in somewhere like Israel which is always looking to stick it to the oil exporting neighbours.

        For more about PRT have a look at Dan Verhoeven’s excellent blog: www.openprtspecs.blogspot.com

  7. Def Silver badge

    Eh?

    If you must take a car to work, why wouldn't you just send it home during the day instead of making it drive around and around and around?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      It's basically the same thing: arbitrage. But you also highlight why people are unlikely to by self-driving cars for themselves: the advantages are minimal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        "It's basically the same thing: arbitrage. But you also highlight why people are unlikely to by self-driving cars for themselves: the advantages are minimal."

        WTF? The advantages are HUGE. 100 cars in a line can accelerate as one, getting rid of driver response times. When combined with traffic light technology, they can create intersections that WORK. Were you ever the last in a line of cars and DIDN'T get through the intersection? Well, now the light knows how long to stay green to get the entire line through, and ALL of them get through faster because even if one is on their f*cking phone ... asleep at the wheel... when the light changes... they all accelerate through the light at once. Accidents of ALL kinds that are normally due to driver error (almost 100%) will be DRASTICALLY reduced. Delays due to accidents... will no longer happen.

        I want to get in my car at 8pm and arrive, 10 hours later and after a night's sleep, at my destination. I no longer need a plane ticket, and I dont have to drive the 10 hours. I can plan a cross country trip and not drive any of it.

        OR, when I get to 75 years old, I want it to take me places. I no longer have to rely on the whims of friends and family to get around.

        Now, for the inner city dweller, self driving offers little. For countries that are so compact that they can be traversed in 7 or 10 hours... also not as much to offer. But for a populace spread out over distance, self driving vehicles have loads to offer.

    2. Fred Dibnah

      Re: Eh?

      That would only make sense if the cost of two extra trips was minimal. It might be at the moment, but as soon as EV numbers rise significantly the government will bump up the taxes on electricity* to make the fuel price similar to ICE cars.

      * I don't know how they they plan to differentiate between juice for EVs and juice for homes, but something like a mandated separate meter for the EV charger might be the answer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eh?

      "why wouldn't you just send it home during the day instead of making it drive around and around and around?"

      Why would you add another 150 km to the distance your car travels each day?

      "If you must take a car to work,"

      This depends on your definition of 'must'.

      In my case, given that it saves me an average of about 3 hours/day compared to the fastest alternative, I'd say I must take a car to work.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        My point was if the alternative to paying for parking is to make it drive around town all day, surely sending it home would be the better option. Or at least send it part way where parking is cheaper or free. (Which is surely the best option - out of town multi-story (underground) self-service car parks only for self-drive cars with prices that make them the most attractive choice.)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        But never ever question the rationality of travelling 75kms each way, 5 times a week, to ensure that the world doesn't run out of telephone sanitising towelettes, or rather to spend 8 hours in a meeting deciding if the lavender scent will sell more than the pine.

  8. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Devil

    In Other News

    ....So the Great Fires of 2020 will be caused by simultaneous battery explosions in different locations of the same city?

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: In Other News

      Only if, like HDDs, you don't spread out your supplier/time of purchase to keep dropped units spread out in the life of use.

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: In Other News

      "....So the Great Fires of 2020 will be caused by simultaneous battery explosions in different locations of the same city?"

      Self-driving car bombs for the terrorist who doesn't want to become a martyr just quite yet.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: In Other News

        Why not? Someone will do a cost per boom! spreadsheet to sort out it it's cheaper to train a terrorist or use a self driving car.

        Icon... the result either way.

  9. Frederic Bloggs
    Coat

    So which bridge in London is that?

    I can't quite place it.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Angel

    It will create a new market

    Just like guys set up a service to move your parked car due to parking restrictions at some small hour of the morning, I think it was big in New York? Now you can pay a guy to drive your car around instead of paying for parking.

    Another option for self driving cars is a co-op. I could easily see companies leasing one car to 4 or 5 people. One person works days, one works evenings etc Think of it as hot desking with self driving cars?

    1. Ashentaine

      Re: It will create a new market

      Given how younger people are increasingly seeing cars as little more than expensive appliances that are leased for a couple years and then disposed of for a slightly different and newer one, I could see how some would see the appeal in that. Especially if you put the right marketing spin on it to make it seem highly trendy.

    2. Time Waster

      Re: It will create a new market

      Who gets to use it at weekends / Christmas / take on holidays etc? This might be OK for the work commute (though not if their shifts are consecutive) but I can’t really see this working in practice. Also, none of this cuts down on actual vehicle mileage (energy usage / lifetime of vehicle) so I don’t really see how sharing with others at work makes a great deal of sense. The real fix is to address the reason everyone has to work the same hours in the same places, where nobody can afford to live. I suspect this will be sorted long before self driving cars are allowed en mass on city streets.

  11. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Short term problem ...

    I'm punting that autonomous cars will lead to private motoring being phased out (either by market choice, or legislation). After all, why do you need a car sitting on your drive doing fuck all for 150 hours a week, when you could hail a podcar within 5 to take you anywhere ?

    I'm increasingly aware that a lot of "thinking" about how things develop seem to be based on one thing changing at a time. Which I would have thought the past 30 years would have shown is clearly not the case.

    Arthur C. Clarke becomes more and more a genius the older I get ....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @JimmyPage - Re: Short term problem ...

      Everybody has a solution that does not work.

      The weakness in your assertion is the 5 minutes waiting time. Something tells me that at peak hours when everybody has to go to work, guaranteeing that service level agreement will require way more cars than we have now. Guess what, you don't need to drive it so anyone with a credit card will be eligible to hail a self-driving car. Maybe in your area the climate is beautiful but where I happen to live these days, you'd rather spend 30 minutes sitting in your car than outside praying for one to come to pick you up.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Short term problem ...

      I think this is the idea. Self-driving cars will inevitably lead to more traffic as they will add to the number of vehicles on the road initially until they start displacing owner-driver ones. As soon as they become assets of a third party then the incentive to sweat the asset: move as many paying passengers as possible.

      Cruising versus parking versus driving can be solved by road pricing, if necessary though companies will already have incentive increase the yield. The combination is designed to drive most owner-drivers out of the market.

      I think the paper is perhaps more intended as warning of the unintended consequences of introducing autonomous vehicles, which are going to get preferential treatment in a lot of places.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Short term problem ...

      "I'm punting that autonomous cars will lead to private motoring being phased out (either by market choice, or legislation). After all, why do you need a car sitting on your drive doing fuck all for 150 hours a week, when you could hail a podcar within 5 to take you anywhere ?"

      It depends on your use cases.

      If I am doing a daily circuit which often, depending on the day, includes moving and securing (while I am not actually in motion) two computers, a couple of cameras and assorted lenses, 70 kilos of scuba gear, a few books, a briefcase or two, and sometimes a case with 2 or three pistols, a shared car is totally useless... and it only spends about 65 hours a week on my drive.

      1. EVP

        Re: Short term problem ...

        ”It depends on your use cases.”

        Exactly! There is a fair number of use cases where (autonomous or not) car sharing is impractical or even impossible. Commuting between office and home isn’t the only daily need for transportation for everyone now, and it won’t that in the future. (If it happened to become the only use case, please take me to the nearest soylent green recycling station)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Short term problem ...

        Yes, but we aren't suggesting that MI6's fleet of tricked up Aston Martins are a typical use case are we?

        Why every single time that anyone on the Reg discusses EVs must people say - 'ahh - but I NEED something with 2 kms more range and the capability to transport a baker's dozen Aardvarks up to the summit of Mt Blanc - and because your EV can't do that EV's can never work'

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Short term problem ...

      Maybe the car pool method? The car picks up 4-6 people along the way who are all going to the same destination?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Short term problem ...

        "Maybe the car pool method? The car picks up 4-6 people along the way who are all going to the same destination?"

        Isn't that what Uber was supposed to be? Look how that turned out.

  12. Snospar

    Utter nonsense

    The whole point of fleets of self-driving autonomous vehicles is that they don't have individual owners and you never need to park them (they themselves will need to find a charging or refueling station at regular intervals but that's another thing that is no longer your problem).

    1. Starace
      Flame

      Re: Utter nonsense

      That isn't the point at all. The model you describe is known as a taxi, or sometimes a bus - a solution that already exists for those that choose to use it. Beyond that model truly autonomous cars are likely to stay a pipe dream.

      I do find this argument about driving to avoid parking fees funny though - parking at £4/hour might seem expensive until you work out the operating and depreciation costs of running a car, per hour. Parking is cheap when you consider it doesn't run the battery down, doesn't run up the mileage and doesn't add wear and tear.

      1. Paul

        Re: Utter nonsense

        You still have to pay depreciation, tax, insurance etc on a parked vehicle.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Utter nonsense

          "You still have to pay depreciation, tax, insurance etc on a parked vehicle."

          There's still fuel and "wear and tear" while it's in motion though. More so on an electric car. Those batteries aren't cheap if you running through charge cycles on an empty car just to save on parking. And most places in the UK don't charge as much as London

      2. EVP

        Re: Utter nonsense

        ”I do find this argument about driving to avoid parking fees funny though - parking at £4/hour might seem expensive until you work out the operating and depreciation”

        In fact, parking doesn’t have to cost anything for autonomous vehicles. A hint: image recognition. Yeees, you got it right!

        Since autonomous vehicles are bloated with cameras and other stuff, how difficult can it be to program them to detect approaching traffic wardens? A vehicle just parks anywhere it likes and when threat is detected, it goes into emergency mode and drives away scot free.

        In fact, vechiles should report wardens to each other.

        Zesla model whY: ”Hey guys, there is an incoming at 51.509865, -0.118092. Clear our!ETX”

        Vulvu P18000 ”Thanks, I’m offACK”,

        Toiota Guerilla: ”Me too. I owe you one, Zesla!ACK”

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Captain Obvious hits back?

    I don't want this to sound like a rant, but it strikes me as a bit of a frivolous subject to write a paper on, because of it being so obvious.

    What is not foregone are the conclusions.

    For one thing, cities can simply prohibit unoccupied / driverless cars from aimlessly roaming the streets.

    For another, it could actually alleviate the current problem, for instance when you have driven six times around the block to find a parking space prior to a five-minute appointment. The streets will be occupied for *less* time if you can send the car away to a remote parking location while you have your meeting / do your shopping.

    Another obvious advantage will be the development of driverless-car only parking spaces. Because people do not need to get in or out of the car, and because of their greater manoeuvring¹ precision, lateral separation between cars can be reduced making the spaces narrower and increasing capacity.

    ¹ Can anybody actually spell this word first time without assistance?

    1. Timo

      Re: Captain Obvious hits back?

      Dear AC, I think your two ideas, while good, appear to be completely contradictory. If autonomous cars are not allowed to roam the streets without passengers, how will they legally be able to go park themselves after disgorging said passengers?

      And I bet that will be how government will attempt to regulate it.

    2. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: Captain Obvious hits back?

      For one thing, cities can simply prohibit unoccupied / driverless cars from aimlessly roaming the streets.

      For each of your instances, I can think of a counter-instance. In this one, I am a working mom, and have sent the car off to pick up the kids at school to bring them to my work, so we can go shopping/out to dinner/home together/etc. Unless the cops are empowered to stop every driverless car and interrogate its intentions (I will not make the obvious remarks on certain drivers being stopped for spurious reasons).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will Self Driving arrive?

    The UK government, on the other hand, reckoned back in 2017 that full-on driverless cars would land in 2021.

    If Elon Musk is to be believed (and millions of his followers/disciples do) then 2021 might be right. His statement earlier this week during the Earnings Call seemed to suggest that he was going all out to finish off the Tesla Autopilot so that it will give level 4 driving ASAP.

    Then we will get people sitting in their tin box on wheels and going back to sleep for the whole drive to the office and then back again in the evening.

    Some are already doing this in California. Numpties.

    Oh, and IMHO the Mayor of London does seem to have an agenda to rid the whole city of private cars even EV's. Well, he has to make up the big black hole that is TfL's finances somehow.

    1. 100113.1537

      Re: When will Self Driving arrive?

      "If Elon Musk is to be believed"

      Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: When will Self Driving arrive?

        ""If Elon Musk is to be believed"

        Hahahahahahahahahahahaha"

        Is Tesla private yet? How much was it, $420/share? Current share price is $312, so I should get some. He couldn't be lying, could he?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: When will Self Driving arrive?

      "going all out to finish off the Tesla Autopilot so that it will give level 4 driving ASAP."

      He can try, but it's not going to happen. Even if he had a claimed level 4 system now, it'll take at least a few years of proving before it's allowed to go in sale, probably longer. 2021 is less than two years away now.

  15. The Nazz Silver badge

    Roundabouts

    How difficult can it be to program an automated car to seek out and then continuously circle a roundabout (until it is summonsed to perform the return home journey)? Gridlock will ensue in seconds.

  16. LenG

    What you need is a self-driving office cubicle. It parks inside an otherwise empty office building and hooks into the services on those days that you actually need to be in the office rather than working from home.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The solution is to take all the money dumped into 18th century commuter technology which is becoming less and less useful for many people, and put all that money into roads and parking facilities.

    It costs a lot less to build a road than dig a subway... and if there is an issue with the road, or a vehicle on the road, the other vehicles can divert. On a subway, the entire system for the entire line grinds to a halt.

    Furthermore, while subways and buses can move people - at least those with no mobility or health or schedule or location challenges, they are much less capable of moving 'stuff'.

    1. Claverhouse Bronze badge
      Stop

      Pulling Old London Down

      The solution is to take all the money dumped into 18th century commuter technology which is becoming less and less useful for many people, and put all that money into roads and parking facilities.

      It costs a lot less to build a road than dig a subway... and if there is an issue with the road, or a vehicle on the road, the other vehicles can divert. On a subway, the entire system for the entire line grinds to a halt.

      Furthermore, while subways and buses can move people - at least those with no mobility or health or schedule or location challenges, they are much less capable of moving 'stuff'.

      Although jolly to imagine Londoners in 1720 using subways and buses... maybe there is limited space to build 'more' roads in places like London.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pulling Old London Down

        "maybe there is limited space to build 'more' roads in places like London."

        I believe Mr Musk thinks he has a solution to that problem :-)

        Although just where he thinks he can dig tunnels under any major city without bumping into all the other underground infrastructure or getting around geological "problems" or even just finding the many safe and useful exits his system will need in a congested city, many of whose centres are filled with old, historic buildings, is anyone's guess.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      "The solution is to take all the money dumped into 18th century commuter technology which is becoming less and less useful for many people, and put all that money into roads and parking facilities."

      Indeed, tear down all those country pubs set up for travellers by horse and cart. What, you meant bicycle lanes? Give over.

  18. DougS Silver badge

    So bill them per mile for driving in the city

    The move from human driven gas powered cars to self driven electric cars will mean that a lot of things will have to change. Gas taxes won't be able to pay for roads anymore, so you'll need some sort of per mile fees so that those who use the roads the most pay for them. Roadwork is more expensive in a city like London than it is in a small town, or a rural highway, so charging more per mile to drive in London is entirely appropriate. One could even envision having an "unoccupied vehicle" surcharge per mile, to address exactly this sort of situation.

    On the other hand, you might have less space within the city wasted for parking since the cars could drive themselves to places that are used only by day for overnight parking - i.e. schools, stadiums, etc. if you know you want it to show up at 8am to pick you up.

    Self driving cars are going to change a lot of things, worrying about "oh no they'll all be driving around the block in circles waiting for their owner to leave the restaurant to save a $10 valet parking fee" is way down the list.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: So bill them per mile for driving in the city

      > show up at 8am to pick you up

      Anybody who has driven to pick up kids from school knows there is no worse cause for congestion than "picking people up": "Oh no, (s)he isn't out yet, I will stop somewhere near the entrance for a minute or twenty" or alternatively "I'll drive around the block, again and again, with other parents joining in in an ever-growing stampede of cars orbiting the school entrance".

      I definitely do not want to get anywhere near a bigger office building on closing time while hundreds of artificial idiot driven cars try to pick up their respective owners.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So bill them per mile for driving in the city

        "I definitely do not want to get anywhere near a bigger office building on closing time while hundreds of artificial idiot driven cars try to pick up their respective owners."

        I have a mental image of an airport luggage carousel, massively scaled up, with loud obnoxious people arguing over whether that's their car or not that's approaching.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: So bill them per mile for driving in the city

      "per mile fees so that those who use the roads the most pay for them."

      The problem with road pricing per mile is that everyone uses the roads. They are an industrial and social necessity that everyone needs. That's why things like "car tax" and fuel duty is not ringfenced specifically for road building/repairs. Most road wear/damage is caused by 40 tonne trucks delivering goods for everyone, including the non-drivers (who incidentally probably use buses a lot, also a major cause of road surface wear and tear).

  19. SNAFUology
    Go

    Taxi !

    self driving taxis that is.

    enough said

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PROWLERS OR PREY?

    The AVs can circle the town, but semi gridlocked parked vehicles are going to be easy pickings for car thieves, and their owners aren't going to be a sprint away if an alarm goes off. (Conversely burglar alarms could sound ineffectively in each herd of Teslas under attack).

    Seriously, if electric vehicles are going to be forced onto London in the next 15-20 years then a time-based congestion charge could be linked to charging plates in parking spaces or roads - low efficiency but a reliable revenue stream and no NOx/particulates.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: PROWLERS OR PREY?

      "but semi gridlocked parked vehicles are going to be easy pickings for car thieves, and their owners aren't going to be a sprint away if an alarm goes off."

      Of course, stealing a self-driving car might be fun.

      "Take me to my house."

      "Thank you for letting me know where you live. Taking you to police station."

      "I said take me to my house."

      "Confirmed, taking car thief directly to police station. Communicating with police self-driving cars to provide a lovely escort for the journey."

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    the incentive to implicitly coordinate with each other in order to generate congestion

    Toyota owners already do this in the US, though the motive isn't clear. Traffic jams don't save gas if you actually need to get somewhere.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: the incentive to implicitly coordinate with each other in order to generate congestion

      "Traffic jams don't save gas if you actually need to get somewhere."

      Jams, no. But go-slows, possibly. Depending on your engine efficiency, since wind and rolling resistance scale super-polynomially (but sub-exponentially), slower speeds save petrol.

  22. LateAgain

    Charging streets?

    Have them go slowly down streets with overhead power. Perhaps even with a power pole standing up at the back and and earth plate under?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Charging streets?

      "Have them go slowly down streets with overhead power. Perhaps even with a power pole standing up at the back and and earth plate under?"

      And since they seem to crash a fair amount, big thick rubber bumpers all round the outside?

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Because cruising is less costly at lower speeds, a game theoretic framework shows that AVs also have the incentive to implicitly coordinate with each other in order to generate congestion."

    Why would they need to coordinate with each other? All it needs is for the manufacturer to provide an economical parking alternative mode and off it goes on its own.

  24. DCFusor Silver badge

    Shoe on other foot

    Lots of people sneered down their noses at me when I moved to "nowhere" and built an off grid homestead...they had their reasons I guess, though most were wrong.

    I have freedom, lower taxes by far, great roads with little traffic, nature in full beauty, not many people (eg not many arseholes).

    Yeah, it's a 13 mile drive to the beer store. Where I see maybe 4-5 cars the entire trip. Yeah, I have to work a little harder to bring in the firewood and so on.

    Harder than what? I learned to write code before many here were born and that pays nicely no matter where the bits come from.

    What this is describing is a dystopia worse than almost any fiction I've heard of, which will be getting worse. Leave while you can, and don't say you can't - zillions of "migrants" prove you dead wrong about that.

  25. Rol Silver badge

    It's not a slow non-park, it's a protest movement!

    Chances are the lasting business model for auto autos will be focused almost entirely on by the hour rental. The vehicles will likely as not be off for their next customer or heading to the most strategically placed charge bay, readying to be in the right place with the minimum of effort when next needed.

    Certainly, city centers would need to adapt - multi-level car parks with services like charging, valet and repair centered on a hub that is 100% inaccessible to the public.

    The car that drops you off at work, then scoots around to pick up the social workers visiting a client,etc,etc.... and then books itself a valet and a charge at the hub nearest to the school where it has a 4 0'clock, is too preoccupied to be considering trolling the tarmac.

    If a city center does find itself to be getting rammed with bored auto autos, then perhaps they should take that as a protest march against the diabolically priced park and charge fees. Perhaps the hubs could auction parking space and just let the market balance itself automatically.

    The options and opportunities to cleverly improve transportation and bring about a revolution in the way we get about, while improving our environment and safety are boundless compared to the options that are currently on the table.

  26. james 68

    A very bad idea.

    "A time-based charge for occupying the public right-of-way, whether parked or in motion."

    This is a corruption scam waiting to happen, as it will encentevise local governments to ensure that their road systems get worse instead of better, simply to create congestion to reap larger profits from the taxes added to the gains from not spending on improving infrastructure. Screwing over everyone else into the bargain both in money and time. Somebody gag the chap who suggested this before he gives the clowns even more ideas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A very bad idea.

      I don't think it is 'just waiting to happen' - lots of cities deliberately and openly disincentivise private car use by adding pinch points, closing roads and adjusting traffic light timing to create congestion....Oxford... I'm looking at you....

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