Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Self driving, flying, and OH MY!
We tend to do first and contemplate the consequences later.
In the US, we kill 40K people a year in car accidents. Approximately 2.3 million people are severely injured in car accidents each year. This cost us $152 BILLION a year in medical expenses, lost wages, lost productivity and property damages.
Makes sense that we should want to turn this over to better drivers.
But be warned, this vision of the future puts a whole lot of people out of work.
230,000 taxi drivers
590,000 real pilots
& 3.5 MILLION truck drivers jobs are at risk.
That's over four million people potentially added to the unemployment line.
We'll need a solution for that.
Automated vehicles will almost certainly be in our future. Yes, they need to improve and be able to tell the difference between a white truck and the sky, but they'll get there.
And soon we'll have:
If you have ever taken a taxi in NYC you will understand why this seems like a good idea. Many of the human drivers can age you several years in less than fifteen minutes of maniacal driving.
However, if we switch to well behaving Self-Driving Cars, then we've got about 230,000 taxi drivers unemployed.
Now if we switch to Self-Driving personal cars these won't necessarily cause people to fired, since most of us drive ourselves. However, it could alter the car industry into more technology and less human input. (But that will probably happen regardless.)
No matter, my next car will be a self-driving car. It just needs to drive on iffy roads that lead me to my hiking spots and roads with no white line down the middle, roads that require squeezing very close to a steep ravine when you meet a truck. But little a Google car should be able to do it.
Now wealthy peeps wouldn't be caught dead in a google car, but this they would like:
Very cool, but my google car will be out before this beauty. Until then the rich will have to do with their driven limos.
Now here's a new option that interests me. The auto-driving cyclotron:
We might even give the cyclotrons narrow lanes so many can ride side by side, thus increasing the number of people being transported.
And now China is sending their cars to California to be tested on our roads.
Okay, that scared me out of wanting a driverless car....
The trucking industry is the place that will hurt and help matters the most. 3.5 million caffeinated (or worse) drivers are the trucking industry's biggest cost. However, sending 3.5 million drivers to our unemployment lines is a disaster. I've no idea how we'll handle that, but there are self-driving trucks out there already. They are just test driving presently, but they do look impressive. But with something that big, I really want them to be 100% accurate:
And what happens when they come upon roads without nice clean lines? Some of the highways I drove when going cross country recently didn't even have pavement due to road construction. Never mind one area where the signage in a construction area was a six inches tall piece of metal placed on a concrete barrier telling me I needed to be three lanes over. How is a self-driving truck going to deal with that? I nearly died getting over three lanes in three seconds!
And then there is the concept of Self-flying/driving cars. This seemed a great idea when I was commuting in NJ, but giving it more consideration, I now believe this is a terrible idea. The sky and roads are very different. The safety requirements needed in the sky are harder to enforce and any minor clipping of someone else's wing will probably end in multiple deaths.
So I think allowing commuters to fly out of trouble is just guaranteed real trouble. This might work in the less populated areas, but for high-density areas: NO NO NO!
And if you're interested there are around 590K pilots down from 800K in the 1980's. The bad idea above is clearly for one, maybe two people, not REAL pilots
The big airlines are actually having a pilot shortage now. Not surprised. If you cut their pay, lengthen their hours and generally treat them like shit when they do something incredible like landing a plane in the Hudson River and get everyone out alive, then you really can't expect them to encourage their sons and daughters to take on this job.
So creating an auto-flying machine that carries 300 passengers from a to b may sound like a good solution, but do you really believe that when a flock of geese take out your engines that a self-flying plane will be able to look around and land in the only possible place to emergency land and survive?
No? Me either.
I expect the first and possibly only planes that go self-flying will be cargo planes. Singapore plans to test fly one in 2017.
However, the idea of car/planes for commuters wins the WORST IDEA EVER award. I have no idea why I long ago thought it a brilliant idea when I commuted. Probably due to the almost daily near deaths I incurred.
Now to have ambulances that could take flight, sounds interesting, but most of the issues I have with commuter flying will be the same for ambulances, although I expect there would be fewer of those in the air, so it might work.
So what is your perspective on the matter? Which sounds like good ideas to you?