May 06, 2016

Self driving cars will transform the economy, society, jobs, highways and cities

General Motors and Lyft will test a fleet of autonomous cars that may include the Chevrolet Bolt EV within a year in a step toward eliminating the major cost of operating ride-sharing fleets — the human driver. The plan is still a work in progress, according to Taggart Matthiesen, Lyft director of product. The two companies have not chosen the city, nor have they settled on which GM vehicles would be used in the pilot program.

Taggart Matthiese said that the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the ideal platform for ride-sharing solutions.

The Bolt design, which features a high level of wireless connectivity, could be a test bed for full, or Level 4, autonomy.

GM is buying self driving car technology in its acquisition of Cruise Automation. Cruise Automation is a 3-year-old San Francisco startup that GM bought for about $1 billion.

In January, GM announced it was investing $500 million in Lyft, the second-largest ride-sharing service in the U.S. after Uber.

Uber also has invested heavily in the robotics and artificial intelligence needed to take full control of a vehicle. In March, the German publication Manager Magazin reported that Uber had placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, citing sources at both companies. Neither company has confirmed that report.

Google has been testing its self-driving cars on public roads in and around its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters for several years.

Google is partnering with Fiat to make 100 self driving minivans for larger scale testing purposes.

Telsa motors has driver assistance in its hundred thousand+ electric cars. Those cars are feeding back live road situation information to help improve self driving capabilites.

Eventually Self driving cars will cause loss of employment for paid drivers but bring many economic and social benefits

If Google and other companies are successful with robotic cars so that all cars, trucks and buses were converted to robotic vehicles there would be huge employment impacts. There are a lot of driving related jobs. Fortunately a lot more jobs will be created from expanded cities and greater mobility and productivity.

According the American Trucking Association there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, with total industry employment at over 8.7 million. That means that one out of every 15 people working in the United States is employed in the trucking industry.

Professional truck drivers drove over 400 billion miles in 2005, a 146 percent increase in 25 years. In 2006, the trucking industry hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight, or 69 percent of total U.S. freight tonnage. In contrast, rail was the next busiest mode, moving 13.3 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage.

Several platoons of automated trucks drove across Europe. A lead truck had a driver but the trucks following were automated.

Suncor is getting self driving trucks for the Oilsands. By 2020, they plan to convert to robotic trucks

Ken Smith, president of Unifor Local 707A, which represents 3,300 Suncor employees. Smith said Suncor has signed agreements to purchase 175 driverless trucks.

Truck, bus, delivery, and taxi drivers account for nearly 6 million professional driving jobs in the United States.

Too bad for the drivers over the next few decades but I want my commute time automated and I want grandma to be independent and mobile and I want to save lives and reduce injury from accidents

So millions of driving jobs would be lost but
* I and others could have a productive commute. I have 2 hours per day commuting. I could theoretically boost productivity by 20%
* Many elderly people can no longer drive safely. Robotic cars will help them to be more mobile and independent
* costs saved throughout the supply chain have the potential to lower costs and provide big economic gains
* a trillion to the US economy from lower accident costs, lower insurance and boosted productivity
* over 30,000 lives saved and 240,000 reduced car accident hospitalizations in the US alone every year

According to an AARP spokeswoman, by 2030 over 78 million boomers will be 65+, and research shows that men will outlive their driving abilities by six years and women by 10.

The Transport Workers Union is pushing to exempt bus drivers from prosecution for killing pedestrians in crosswalks is an unfortunate example of "union power" ignoring the interest of the public. The TWU bill in the City Council is supported by 16 council members, many of whom are recipients of political contributions from the TWU. Councilman I. Daneek Miller, in an op-ed in the Daily News, cited the traumatization of the bus driver who was recently arrested for hitting a 15-year-old girl in Williamsburg. There was no mention of the trauma of the young victim, who may lose a leg and be maimed by the crash.

Automation of driving has the potential to save over a million lives per year globally from reducing fatal car accidents.

Google has claimed the robotic car could :

We can reduce traffic accidents by 90%.
We can reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90%.
We can reduce the number of cars by 90%.

About 5.5 million motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2009 in the U.S., involving 9.5 million vehicles. These accidents killed 33,808 people and injured more than 2.2 million others, 240,000 of whom had to be hospitalized.

Adding up all costs related to accidents—including medical costs, property damage, loss of productivity, legal costs, travel delays and pain and lost quality of life—the American Automobile Association studied crash data in the 99 largest U.S. urban areas and estimated the total costs to be $299.5 billion.

Traffic congestion wasted 4.8 billion hours and 1.9 billion gallons of fuel a year for urban Americans. That translates to $101 billion in lost productivity and added fuel costs.

Shared Robotic cars could reduce the costs for taxis and transportation by five times

A senior who cannot drive might easily pay $4000 per year for transportation. This is usually on a fixed income. Lowering the costs by five times would be $800 per year for transportation.

Young people (under 16) who cannot drive would have mobility options other than being driven by their parents.

Society will have a lot more net benefits from robotic cars.

Transformation of cities and highways

An IEEE paper assessed the increase in highway capacity.

The increase in highway capacity when using sensors alone is about 43%.

The increase in highway capacity when using both sensors and vehicle to vehicle communication is about 273%.

Current maximum throughput is 2200 vehicles per hour per lane of highway.

Highway capacity increases was also analyzed by the California PATH program. Automation will allow shorter vehicle gaps and narrower spacing from more precise turning.

Platooning cars could get to 400% increase in highway capacity with 25% margin for merging. Longer platoons with smaller gaps enable higher capacity. The most capacity is not always needed and under most circumstances larger gaps and shorter platooning can be used. Platooning also allows the following cars to draft behind the lead vehicle in order to save on fuel.

Road capacity could be boosted by 4 times using robotic cars. This could be another 30% boost to productivity.

More traffic density and Larger, More Productive City populations can boost GDP by 30%

Google told the world it has developed computer driving tech that is basically within reach of doubling (or more) the capacity of a road lane to pass cars. Pundits don’t seem to realize just how big a deal this is – it could let cities be roughly twice as big, all else equal.

Seminal work by Ciccone and Hall (1996) assessed the impacts of density on productivity in the US, and found that doubling employment density, and keeping all other factors constant, increased average labor productivity by around 6%. Subsequent work by Ciccone (1999) found that in Europe, all other things being equal, doubling employment density increased productivity by 5%. A third paper (Harris and Ioannides, 2000) applies the logic directly to metropolitan areas and also finds a 6% increase in productivity with a doubling of density.

More recent work by Dan Graham (2005b, 2006) examines the relationship between increased effective density (which takes into account time travelled between business units) and increased productivity across different industries. Graham finds that across the whole economy, the urbanisation elasticity (that is, the response of productivity to changes in density) is 0.125. This means that a 10% increase in effective density, holding all other factors constant, is associated with a 1.25% increase in productivity for firms in that area. Doubling the density of an area would result in a 12.5% increase in productivity.

Economist Robin Hanson noted that doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission.

Traffic Congestion $100 billion cost in the USA

In the USA, using standard measures, waste associated with traffic congestion summed to $101 billion of delay and fuel cost.

The cost to the average commuter was $713 in 2010 compared to an inflation-adjusted $301 in 1982
Sixty million Americans suffered more than 30 hours of delay in 2010

1.9 billion gallons of fuel were wasted because of traffic congestion

Traffic congestion caused aggregate delays of 4.8 billion hours.

Transport puts a 200 billion Euro price tag on congestion in Europe (approximately 2% of GDP). Central America also has its traffic woes. Let’s not forget other countries. On the weekend, Panama found that the price of congestion for business and the community was somewhere between $500 million-$2 billion annually. According to the Asian Development Bank, road congestion costs economies 2%–5% of gross domestic product every year due to lost time and higher transport costs.

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