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Old September 29 2013, 07:19 PM   #141
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Technological Stagnation

farmkid wrote: View Post
sojourner wrote: View Post
Yes, I believe you are agreeing with me. Cars can do that on their own. no central computer needed.
No, if the cars' actions are not coordinated in some way, either by communication with one another or central control, they then know nothing about what other cars are going to do until they do it. With central control or communication, you could have several miles of cars on the freeway, all traveling at 200+ mph, separated by mere inches. One needs to get off in a mile, and the others all know it, so they gradually make room for that car to move over and get off. If there's a reason to slow down, they can all do so together. If each car only knows about the other cars actions when it actually happens, they can't coordinate their movements and they have to keep sufficient distance between them and go slow enough so that they can react appropriately to the actions of other cars.

Now, I suppose you could have the cars communicate with each other with brake lights, turn signals, and such, but then the cars will only know about the cars in their immediate vicinity and can't really coordinate their actions with more distant cars.
Central control creates more problems than it solves. Allowing cars to go a lot faster makes little sense because of how energy inefficient it is. Your average car tops out its fuel efficiency around 55 miles an hour, and declines precipitously beyond that point. Cars that can easily go 200mph and do it efficiently aren't even on the drawing board today. You'd have to address that before it makes any sense at all to have central control. As gturner said, there's also a much higher accident risk at such speeds. The only place such high speeds even make sense is intercity/interstate highways, in which case you'd be much better served having high-speed trains instead.

Autonomous self-driving cars exist today and could be a common sight in the next decade or two. Central control of them makes very little sense, though.
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