Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Self driving is super exciting right now.

I have to admit, I don't know much about this company - they just popped on my radar today. So I'm not sure how I feel about them yet. But I have to admit - it's an interesting premise. A remote controlled self driving truck. On the highway it will be self driving, and then a person takes over for the last mile in and out.  Starsky Robotics home.

"One peculiarity of self-driving technology is that, while automakers proudly brag about investing billions to catch up with Silicon Valley’s efforts, truck manufacturers have been fairly quiet, if not downright reluctant. That's because the politics of the trucking industry, one of the largest employers in the United States, is a minefield even larger than that of the taxi industry. And you don’t need to be Travis Kalanick to know how badly Uber’s handled the latter.  Source.

I've never really understood Ubers' idea that people won't own cars anymore. I'm not sure who owns them. Assumably Uber. But the reason Uber is successful (I think) is because they don't have all the overhead that cab companies have. I.e - cars.

When you drive down any freeway these days - you can't help but notice how much traffic can be improved if trucks just had their own lane and followed each other until they have to peel off.  Right now there are trucks piled high in 3 or 4 lanes. You can barely see around them you get so packed in sometimes. If we aren't going to build new freeways - we need to get trucks to stay in one lane for the most part.


  1. Whoa whoa whoa, forcing drivers into a single lane to help the collective. This sounds like traffic socialism, did your blog get hacked?

    The other day, i saw one of those cheapass craigslist moving services, driving a hybrid box truck. It warmed my heart, because it means that the budweisers of the world are starting to kick down the newer tech cars to the secondary market. If we assume, three years before automated semis start hitting the road, then were looking at 12 years before they become affordable for small business/most truckers? Change is coming, but I think it will take another decade or two, before the automated lanes go up.

  2. Hahahah. Oh! I'm the traffic nazi now?

    I would say that is a good timeline, but there is an immense amount of force behind this segment. I think it could be sooner. For example, I know of a tech company who is going to convert their campus shuttles into autonomous by next year. It's a good test because they only have to go between buildings and encounter limited amounts of traffic. All those hours logged help (I hope) get through regs.

  3. Actually, if they'd flip the solution, getting the vehicle to drive the distances within a protected intermodal facility, they'd have the start for the self-parking containerised intermodal freight fleet that I mentioned a while back.

    When I see one of the super-hip, super-tech-savvy former Netscape/Mozilla dudes whinging (accurately) about Uber's insanity involving self-driving (and red light ignoring) vehicles in SF possibly trying to kill him, I realise the legal and social barriers are far more significant than the technology barriers ...

    But this is typical tech: try to solve the really tricky problem at an O(n^insane) complexity level first when all that was required was solving O(n^difficult but not impossible) instead.

    (Also, Google can't even get bloody captcha to work right most of the time, so would you trust that lot with driving vehicles with sufficient mass and speed to kill pedestrians? Oh, wait, I'll answer that after getting some more captchas "wrong" about European and British road signs, despite having passed several tests ...)

  4. Yeah. I remember you talking about that.

    To be fair - people are doing their best impressions of deer. They are trying to get themselves killed. They just walk out in front of cars without even looking these days. Based on that - I think you have equal chances of killing one of them with a human or a machine. And the peds in San Fransisco get whatever is coming to them. They are the worst. If an Uber culls one of the herd.......maybe that is helping humanity. I'm not sure. Every single time someone gets run over up there and killed I'm sure it's because they just walked out into the road without looking. Who trusts anyone that much? Certainly not some rando with a car.

  5. "... people are doing their best impressions of deer ..."


    Ah, er, ahem, right, where were we ... :-)

    I've had a hipster walk right into the side of my rented Land Rover without looking up from his mobile phone or bothering to take out his ear-blocking headphones.

    After suggesting to him that we try this again, but instead of stopping, I'd simply punch through the zebra crossing going very much in excess of 60 mph, he decided that he actually did have a survival instinct after all and chose to run away, although not terribly fast.

    If I thought this were going to be a regular thing, I'd buy a case of bear mace, just so I could "spice up" some of these people's days. :-)