Technological Stagnation

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Into Darkness, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    With millions of driverless cars on the roads, the only way to effectively control them will be through a central system.
     
  2. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    The Boeing 777 is an aluminum plane built almost 20 years ago. I think you mean the 787 Dreamliner, which still isn't as fast as the Convair 990. The 990 still holds the record as the fastest subsonic airliner ever built, with a Mach 0.89 cruise and a Mach 0.91 top speed. The 990 was built in 1961 but lost out to the Boeing 727 (only a few dozen 990's were ever built). It's top speed is 23 mph faster than the Dreamliner.

    Interestingly, modern airliners took until the 1990's to match the passenger mile fuel efficiency of the prop airliners of the 1940's and 1950's, as they sacrificed efficiency for speed. If the earlier airliner had been powered by something like radial diesels (which weren't really pursued), they'd still probably beat the 787 for fuel efficiency.
     
  3. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    No.
     
  4. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    So, we have people driving autonomously right now, but computer driven cars would need to be centralized?? No. that's a recipe for disaster. You've just reduced every vehicle on the road to a single point of failure. If that central system has a failure or is hacked, millions die. If a single vehicle has a failure or is hacked only a few die.
     
  5. Snaploud

    Snaploud Admiral Admiral

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    Some sort of computer-to-computer communication will be important if we want to get the full benefits out of driverless cars. There's probably a middle-ground between a centralized computer program and a bunch of purely-autonomous systems. Coordination between cars will allow us to reduce traffic, increase road speeds, and increase safety all at the same time.
     
  6. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    The cars can do that without a centralized computer.
     
  7. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

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    They can somewhat, but to get the real benefit of computer-driven cars will require that they be either centrally controlled or that they communicate with each other. If the cars do that, they can travel at high speeds (don't know how fast, perhaps 100-200 mph?) with mere inches or perhaps a couple of feet of space between them. When a car needs to change lanes, the other cars around will know it and make space immediately. If one slows down at all for any reason, the others will all know it and slow down accordingly. If the cars only get information from their sensors, they cannot work together in such a coordinated way and travel improvements will be only a small fraction of what is possible with central control or communicating cars.
     
  8. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, I believe you are agreeing with me. Cars can do that on their own. no central computer needed.
     
  9. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    I don't think that's a good idea. If my car talks to your car then my car can send your car messages, and I can trivially hack that to tell your car really scary things about what my car is about to do, making your car slam on the brakes and swerve out of my way.
     
  10. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    But that's better than having your car send messages to a central computer to tell it scary things to make thousands of other cars slam on their brakes and swerve out of the way.
     
  11. farmkid

    farmkid Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  12. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, once again. No central computer needed. We agree. See the post above yours for why a centralized system is bad. One point of failure. Cars communicating is workable though.
     
  13. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Birds are able to easily move in large groups without a central means of coordination. Works fine for them. Besides, if a car is driving along and needs to change lanes, why would it need to coordinate with a car a mile away?
     
  14. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    All this discussion of self-driving cars is a colossal geek-wank. Because IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

    We're talking two different transportation paradigms here. There's public transit, which can certainly be made faster, more efficient, and more flexible. And then there's private transportation, i.e., the personal automobile -- the entire POINT of which is that you, the driver, control the vehicle and make the decisions. People will never willingly surrender control of their cars to automation -- because then they won't be cars anymore.

    BTW, on my recent poll thread, a majority said they enjoy driving for its own sake. As do I.
     
  15. Snaploud

    Snaploud Admiral Admiral

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    Humans love convenience. Anybody who spends ten hours a week in traffic will jump at the chance to own a self-driving car.

    As for the coordination issue: we can reduce traffic by increasing the level of coordination on the roads. Much of those gains can be achieved through self-driving cars. More gains can be achieved through self-driving cars with high-speed communication among vehicles. Eventually, we will reach the point in which any additional gains would require a central control system. Each step has its pros and cons.
     
  16. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    That'll never be done. A blown tire at 200 mph would kill a whole lot of people, as would a teenager throwing a cinder block off an overpass just to see what happens (one of my friends actually had that as a legal case).

    Or multiply the kinetic energy of hitting a deer at 65 mph by ten. The debris from the first collision will come flying off, impact the other cars (and possibly oncoming ones), making for a very bad day on the highway.
     
  17. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is what I call a "steampunk debate." The ideas become more and more extreme because they do not solve a problem, they merely compound it with engineering demands. Meanwhile, congested highways will probably be "solved" from a totally unexpected direction—fewer people will need to travel. That is, those people who can "telecommute" will do so, and many jobs that require physical interaction will become automated.

    Even that is not a "solution," it is merely a paradigm shift. Fans of history know that traffic congestion is inevitable in every age. For example, Rome had to restrict who could enter the city at what times, with and without a cart, etc. The only difference today is that the technology is more complicated. Around the turn of the 20th century the "by-products" of horses were a major issue in cities. (Horses could at least take you home "on automatic," but cars cured the horse problems. Maybe we're going backward, or merely shifting around one set of problems for another?) As more people telecommute, or automated machines fill in for minimum wage jobs, we'll have daily slow-downs and outages on the Web to dwarf the release of iOS 7.

    And if you thought we had bandwidth problems now, where every person on the planet has a cellular mobile device, just wait until every car needs "mission critical" access, too. We'll need a whole new spectrum and be up to IPv12 at that point. Your sonic toothbrush will have an address.
     
  18. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  19. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'd jump at the chance not to own ANY car. I'd love it if mass transit was universal. Imagine being able to walk down your driveway and catch a 'personal pod' that could take you anywhere. (Central control may not be necessary for cars, but it damn well would be for 'pods.') Or, failing that, I'd settle for my city just having a real mass transit system - subways, light rail, etc. - as opposed to some barely functional bus service.

    Some people enjoy driving - not me. I'd be perfectly happy to let it go. Not only is mass transit more convenient, but it's cheaper - you don't have to worry about taxes, storage, maintenance, insurance, gas, etc. if you don't own a car!
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  20. Into Darkness

    Into Darkness Captain Captain

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    In the UK at rush hour, congestion is an utter headache. This day and age 3 lane motorways is just not adequate enough. They should either extend all motorways by two more lanes or consider building a double decker motorway system.

    On top of this I think cars this day and age should come with an option to switch to entirely electric power when on a motorway and the motorways could then be designed to recharge cars as they drive along them. I think to do something like that on all roads or carriageways is far too expensive and silly but major motorways could potentially do this. When the cars leave the motorway they could then switch back to petrol.
    Cars though of course would need to be charged via number plate recognition every time they enter onto the motorways but its saves you money on petrol so it wouldn't be like you are losing money because you are saving petrol.