Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Locked
Gufomel
Posts: 257
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:52 pm

Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Gufomel » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:10 pm

I've seen autonomous vehicles discussed a lot on this forum and elsewhere over the past couple years. However, I don't seem to have seen much discussion about drone deliveries. Maybe I've missed it. I haven't really thought much about it, but it really could have a massive impact on the way we carry out our daily activities (short video below).

https://youtu.be/mf98WxUSlHc

Which one (autonomous vehicles or drone deliveries) do you expect will be the first to be fully integrated into society? Which one will have the biggest impact on our society? In what ways do you anticipate either of them will impact you personally?

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 5382
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Pajamas » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:19 pm

I think both of these future trends are part of the move towards replacing human labor with machinery that started the first time someone took a digging tool and added a handle to it to make a hoe, or added a handle to a smashing tool to make a hammer. There is a huge shift from labor to capital and a corresponding increase in inequality in wealth and it is already causing socio-political problems. It doesn't make much difference to me personally if vehicles drive themselves or items I order are delivered by a person vs. a drone or robot, but it matters a lot to a taxi driver or delivery person.

deikel
Posts: 518
Joined: Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:13 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by deikel » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:08 pm

In my opinion, drone delivery is a fancy toy. Its certainly doable, but what benefit does it truly bring you ? It replaces a delivery system that depends on humans bringing you the stuff to your post box. That replacement may have advantages in cost, speed or convenience - but its an incremental improvement of an already existing service.

Autonomous vehicles is a whole different story, the personal benefit in commute alone would be breathtaking in its time savings, the sharing aspect would eliminate cost for parking, taxi/cab service would be disrupted ect. Enabling mobility for disabled people, interstate travel with less stress and so on. IMO that is a truly disruptive technology on a whole different scale than drones are.

What will be achieved earlier ? Well drones should be so much simpler it might be quicker, but its also much more boring - I hope the self driving car will be along sooner...
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immidiatly and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.

Gufomel
Posts: 257
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:52 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Gufomel » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:20 pm

deikel wrote:In my opinion, drone delivery is a fancy toy. Its certainly doable, but what benefit does it truly bring you ? It replaces a delivery system that depends on humans bringing you the stuff to your post box. That replacement may have advantages in cost, speed or convenience - but its an incremental improvement of an already existing service.

Autonomous vehicles is a whole different story, the personal benefit in commute alone would be breathtaking in its time savings, the sharing aspect would eliminate cost for parking, taxi/cab service would be disrupted ect. Enabling mobility for disabled people, interstate travel with less stress and so on. IMO that is a truly disruptive technology on a whole different scale than drones are.

What will be achieved earlier ? Well drones should be so much simpler it might be quicker, but its also much more boring - I hope the self driving car will be along sooner...
Did you watch the video? What you've said is how I originally thought of drone delivery. However, from the perspective of the video it would revolutionize how/when we buy supplies/tools/food/etc. I agree that autonomous vehicles have more potential to have a bigger impact. But I'm starting to think drones are going to be much more than just a different method of delivery.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 7011
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:27 pm

I can see where drone deliver would make for good skeet practice.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

DireWolf
Posts: 335
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 4:53 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by DireWolf » Tue Mar 14, 2017 4:37 pm

There are too many obvious potential issues with either one. For drones... they can easily be used to spy on people, carry explosives and shoot weapons, crash into people and property, be hacked and controlled by others, be shot out of the sky, be stolen along with the merchandise they are carrying, interrupt air travel, etc. For autonomous cars... they can be hacked and taken over by other people, how do you escape someone chasing you or trying to kill you in your autonomous car? what if you are late for something important and need to drive over the speed limit to make it on time? what if you have an emergency that requires you to get to the hospital or some other location immediately? The real-life scenarios are endless and I don't see how the technology can account for all of them.

User avatar
Flymore
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue May 31, 2016 1:31 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Flymore » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:58 pm

Been an RC pilot for years.
The big thing in my RC flying club right now is RC gliders either hand launched from a cliff or winch launched. With a thermal, you can fly all day. Very little interest in quadcopters (drones, I find them boring). Drone fines are on the rise, 5 figures were discussed at my last club meeting. Spinning propellers when in contact with flesh can cause serious damage - deep cuts and stitches - seen it. Even worse than nitro or gas engines, why? Because unlike gas or nitro engines - electric motors carry more torque at lower RPM's so the lacerations are deeper and the blades are sharp and keep spinning.

Still, the bigger issue I see is batteries. I'm getting ready for my annual battery order $$$. Batteries are hugely better now than a few years ago, but still a big pain in the A$$. For me to get ready to fly I need at least 48 hours to charge everything. They don't last forever and must be disposed of properly. Batteries on a charge must not be left alone due to the risk of fire. Usually, every year someone will bring a plane in with a battery smoking, I have. Usually, happens if you draw too many amps. You can draw too many amps in a battery when the resistance inside the battery has increased because you've cycled it too many times... time for a new battery $$$. Another problem is the battery just doesn't have capacity anymore.... time for a new battery.

The hacking of a drone is nearly impossible. Each transmitter has a digital signature and will only accept instructions from the transmitter it is bound to. But you have RF interference caused by someone who doesn't like the drone... easy to create. My favorite was the chimp with a stick who put the stick in the drone flying around the zoo, Hahahahaahaha Guess the chimp didn't like the drone.

Autonomous vehicles are something else and far more likely.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 2009
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:19 pm

It's hard for me to see drone delivery as making sense. When there are more than a few air traffic control would get to be a problem. Drones spend lots of energy staying in the air and not so much going from one place to another. Many things we buy are massy or bulky.

On the other hand, I would be willing to bet that driverless cars are coming in a big way and pretty soon.

The actionable item- don't invest in these things because you can't tell which competing technology will win.

User avatar
reriodan
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:08 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by reriodan » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:26 pm

Driverless cars will DEFINITELY be integrated into society first and I can't wait. :sharebeer

randomguy
Posts: 5630
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by randomguy » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:30 pm

Gufomel wrote:
deikel wrote:In my opinion, drone delivery is a fancy toy. Its certainly doable, but what benefit does it truly bring you ? It replaces a delivery system that depends on humans bringing you the stuff to your post box. That replacement may have advantages in cost, speed or convenience - but its an incremental improvement of an already existing service.

Autonomous vehicles is a whole different story, the personal benefit in commute alone would be breathtaking in its time savings, the sharing aspect would eliminate cost for parking, taxi/cab service would be disrupted ect. Enabling mobility for disabled people, interstate travel with less stress and so on. IMO that is a truly disruptive technology on a whole different scale than drones are.

What will be achieved earlier ? Well drones should be so much simpler it might be quicker, but its also much more boring - I hope the self driving car will be along sooner...
Did you watch the video? What you've said is how I originally thought of drone delivery. However, from the perspective of the video it would revolutionize how/when we buy supplies/tools/food/etc. I agree that autonomous vehicles have more potential to have a bigger impact. But I'm starting to think drones are going to be much more than just a different method of delivery.
They guy in the video is pushing an idea. There have been zillions of ideas pushed. Remember when the sharing economy was going to be about not having to buy tools like hammers, lawnmowers, and so on but just renting them. Hasn't happened. Remember when all your groceries were going to be delivered to your door? It is 20 years later and it is just slowly happening.

I find it hard to believe that they can get the cost of flying a drone down low enough so that I am willing to JIT a lot of stuff. Flying is energy expensive. It is going to hard to get the price down low enough for people to ignore. You are not going to want to pay 5 bucks to have your batteries delievered JIT versus buying them and storing them.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there is some niche that the mail/delivery drugs don't cover that drone delivery will be perfect for. But I expect that it is a niche and not most of the market.

People are horrible at predicting disruptive technology or how a given technology will be disruptive.

iamlucky13
Posts: 857
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:45 pm

I got a huge kick out of how revolutionary Amazon pretended their drone idea is - as in literally for days, whenever I thought about the commotion the announcement caused, I had difficulty stifling a chuckle.

Just-in-time consumer delivery was already proven a viable market. Decades ago. By a guy with little more than a high school education and a a couple good Italian food recipes.

Pizza delivery is apparently the Next Big Thing that was impossible without 21st century technology. :oops:

If a gadget like Amazon's 55 pound electric drone (which can not realistically hold enough batteries to store more than about $0.30 worth of electricity and whose range on that amount of electricity has already been tested) that is largely unaffected by traffic, doesn't have to follow the roads, and doesn't expect a paycheck can't undercut a pizza delivery boy, then something else is seriously wrong.

The real challenge is the same one that made Sears a 20th century retail powerhouse and then later allowed to Amazon beat them - the logistics of it all. What do you stock locally versus distribute conventionally? What items will customers prefer to wait until their next trip out for versus pay for special delivery of? How much do you charge? At what point is multiple drone trips less favorable than a single delivery van making multiple stops? Etc.

Hot pizza is in demand pretty much everywhere and loses much of its value without immediate delivery. It's pretty much a Just in Time poster child. Not everything else is comparable, especially not hammers like the video presenter suggested. Waiting 15 minutes everytime I need a hammer would be just plain silly.

I fully expect drone delivery to gradually become mainstream, but I don't expect it to become predominant, nor have more than a modest effect on product ownership. And it's not fundamentally new. It's expansion of an existing market.

User avatar
jharkin
Posts: 1537
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:14 am
Location: Boston suburbs

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by jharkin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:38 pm

Flymore wrote:Been an RC pilot for years.
The big thing in my RC flying club right now is RC gliders either hand launched from a cliff or winch launched. With a thermal, you can fly all day. Very little interest in quadcopters (drones, I find them boring). Drone fines are on the rise, 5 figures were discussed at my last club meeting. Spinning propellers when in contact with flesh can cause serious damage - deep cuts and stitches - seen it. Even worse than nitro or gas engines, why? Because unlike gas or nitro engines - electric motors carry more torque at lower RPM's so the lacerations are deeper and the blades are sharp and keep spinning.

Still, the bigger issue I see is batteries. I'm getting ready for my annual battery order $$$. Batteries are hugely better now than a few years ago, but still a big pain in the A$$. For me to get ready to fly I need at least 48 hours to charge everything. They don't last forever and must be disposed of properly. Batteries on a charge must not be left alone due to the risk of fire. Usually, every year someone will bring a plane in with a battery smoking, I have. Usually, happens if you draw too many amps. You can draw too many amps in a battery when the resistance inside the battery has increased because you've cycled it too many times... time for a new battery $$$. Another problem is the battery just doesn't have capacity anymore.... time for a new battery.

The hacking of a drone is nearly impossible. Each transmitter has a digital signature and will only accept instructions from the transmitter it is bound to. But you have RF interference caused by someone who doesn't like the drone... easy to create. My favorite was the chimp with a stick who put the stick in the drone flying around the zoo, Hahahahaahaha Guess the chimp didn't like the drone.

Autonomous vehicles are something else and far more likely.
Another long time RC pilot here (AMA life member - mostly glow and gas power planes and helicopters - but Im in a sailplane heavy club).

Don't be so sure about hacking impossibility. Somebody found a way to crack the packet ID codes for Spektrum and it was heavily discussed on the forums. I doubt Futaba FASST and JR DMSS are immune either.

https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/1 ... midflight/
http://www.helifreak.com/showthread.php?t=762642

I have similar feelings about quads as you do (blah... unless you want to take photos) but what gives me pause are proposals like the Amazon idea to basically make all asirpace above 200ft and below full scale traffic the sole domain of commercial drones with GPS guidance and autonomous sense and avoid. If they pushed it though it would nearly end our hobby and mean I will have to listen to those buzzing monstrocities all the time while trying to enjoy a BBQ in my backyard. :oops:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/28/90582 ... very-drone

btenny
Posts: 4427
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by btenny » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:15 pm

I think food delivery by drone will start happening this year or next year in the west as viable commercial thing. Nevada and Arizona are already doing trials for lots of applications already. Seven Eleven stores already are doing trials in Reno. See below. Lots of stores have issues with getting enough food delivered in rush hour or during special event times. Drones will solve that problem. Amazon and many other big retailers are working in both places.

Personally I bet Phoenix and Vegas are in the mix with some sort of fancy food delivery service. There is a big demand for order in good restaurant food to be delivered while it is still hot. Drones solve this issue. Price is not a problem. Speed and quality are the issues. Plus in the west the skies are clear and there is lots of room for landing and fewer power lines to interfere with flying. And state government in both places are pro development of this technology.

http://www.recode.net/2016/12/20/140263 ... eno-nevada

Good Luck.

letsgobobby
Posts: 11272
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:19 pm

reriodan wrote:Driverless cars will DEFINITELY be integrated into society first and I can't wait. :sharebeer
I agree, this seems like achievable technology within a relatively short period of time given the progress thus far.

Actionable: I am confident enough in its imminence that I am hoping to wait to replace my car with a car that is close to autonomous or capable of being easily upgraded as such.

btenny
Posts: 4427
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by btenny » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:54 pm

Certainly auto pilots for truck are close to going live and commercial. There is huge demand to get more drivers and reduce driver fatigue. This technology may help on both fronts. See below. But anything beyond a better cruise control for cars and trucks is just future talk hot air IMO. Crowded cities and issue with interfacing everything is just too complex. Human drivers will stay at the controls in town for long time. But I agree nice fancy auto pilots for cars and trucks are close at hand. Maybe 2020 or so.

https://www.wired.com/2016/10/ubers-sel ... 000-beers/

Good Luck.

likegarden
Posts: 2593
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by likegarden » Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:01 pm

With autonom cars, perhaps when all the painted stripes, traffic signs, traffic lights are completely standardized over the whole US including rural areas and areas under construction, and all software has been 100% debugged, I am still a skeptic. Same with delivery drones.

User avatar
F150HD
Posts: 1484
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by F150HD » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:43 pm

reriodan wrote:Driverless cars will DEFINITELY be integrated into society first and I can't wait. :sharebeer
some counties where I Iive depend on DUI $$$ to fund county budgets. Wonder what impact this would have on that...

Also, all the no-texting while driving laws would need to be repealed as if you aren't driving the car you're in, what difference would it make?

would NASCAR become driverless?

WolfgangPauli
Posts: 241
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:28 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by WolfgangPauli » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:17 pm

Drone delivery is almost certainly going to be here but in a different way than people think.

First, I think the most obvious will be drone / truck hybrids. Because of the distance issue from a warehouse we will still load trucks up but rather than stopping at every home the driver will stop at a key central point. From there he will launch drones all through the neighborhood making deliveries.

Another one people are working on are "flying warehouses". So, think of this... at a sporting event Amazon flies a blimp full of product geared towards the event (shirts, hats etc. etc.). You order from your phone and the drone literally delivers to your seat using GPS from your phone.

Third, much larger drones will be used to service rural areas. There are over 3000 landing strips in the US - most in rural areas. Think of Fedex launching a very large (regular aircraft size) drone and landing it in a rural town. A local person then picks up the packages, runs routes locally, picks up returns, puts returns back in the drone and launches it back to the single delivery hub.

If you think I am making this up, I actually got all this from a detailed presentation made by some professors at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals annual meeting. This is "here and now". Not "Star Trek".

Finally, the leader in innovation on this is a professor at Duke named Missy Cummings. She was one of the first female pilots to pilot off an aircraft carrier upon graduating the Naval Academy. As she puts it, she quickly realized the plan can fly better than the human. She said when they did full automation landings on the carriers, the plane ALWAYS landed better than a pilot. A great speech she gave at Duke is here: https://youtu.be/oB0JsLzxIF0

You will be surprised.. unless you die in the next 3 years .. you are going to see this come and it is coming very very fast.
Twitter: @JAXbogleheads | EM: JAXbogleheads@gmail.com

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3141
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by lthenderson » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:29 am

Flymore wrote:The hacking of a drone is nearly impossible. Each transmitter has a digital signature and will only accept instructions from the transmitter it is bound to.
According to the many sources I have read, hacking a drone is extremely easy because that "digital signature" isn't encrypted.

http://thehackernews.com/2016/10/how-to-hack-drone.html
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/hack-drone.htm

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3141
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by lthenderson » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:36 am

I am fascinated by the thought of drones (air or land kind) making deliveries but I am not holding my breath that I see it anytime soon near my house. I'm not doubting the technology part but just the ability to do things like that in very rural area of the country. It is 60 miles to the nearest grocery store and if you want a specialty item it is another 100 miles beyond that. This is why I know my UPS driver on a first name basis as he makes almost daily deliveries. Perhaps they will automate UPS trucks and equip them with a drone to take the package "the last mile" as was referred in the video.

themesrob
Posts: 152
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by themesrob » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:28 pm

I think there are a lot of hardware and software barriers to overcome before either of these are widespread. I think self-driving vehicles are further off, and may possibly never happen, considering the additional commercial obstacles. People may not be willing to buy driverless cars where, for example, the software instructs the car to continue full-speed through a pothole on the highway because braking slightly/shifting within the lane would increase the chances of an accident in moderate traffic by .04% (hypothetically). Will the designers be able to simulate human decisionmaking in the software (or will that even be allowed by regulators)? Will people buy a car that constantly needs repairs because it is not programmed to accept minute increases in risk which a human could instantly process and dismiss? I'd gladly welcome the advent of self-driving cars (who wouldn't want to nap during their commute), but I'm not optimistic about them in the next 20 years or so.

KarenC
Posts: 65
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:25 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by KarenC » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:27 pm

I dread the advent of ubiquitous drones because of how noisy they are.
"How much you know is less important than how clearly you understand where the borders of your ignorance begin." — Jason Zweig

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3141
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by lthenderson » Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:50 pm

themesrob wrote:I think self-driving vehicles are further off, and may possibly never happen, considering the additional commercial obstacles. People may not be willing to buy driverless cars where, for example, the software instructs the car to continue full-speed through a pothole on the highway because braking slightly/shifting within the lane would increase the chances of an accident in moderate traffic by .04% (hypothetically). Will the designers be able to simulate human decisionmaking in the software (or will that even be allowed by regulators)? Will people buy a car that constantly needs repairs because it is not programmed to accept minute increases in risk which a human could instantly process and dismiss? I'd gladly welcome the advent of self-driving cars (who wouldn't want to nap during their commute), but I'm not optimistic about them in the next 20 years or so.
I know you were referring to full sized vehicles but small driver-less delivery vehicles are already here.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr- ... 6c3af13974

This article is a year old but just saw a splurb on a morning news show about them already doing a trial in D.C. right now.

User avatar
dual
Posts: 491
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:02 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by dual » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:08 pm

Some interesting factoids and speculations that may have some truth to them

According to a driverless car technology online class I took, if you take an aerial photo of a freeway at rush hour that is crowded but still moving at the speed limit, over 90% of the road area is vacant. If you could get cars to tighten up their spacing by 50% while still going at the speed limit, the freeway could transport twice as many cars per minute.

Cars are parked a huge fraction of the time. For someone like me who drives about 2000 miles a year, assuming I am going 30 miles hour on average in city traffic (2 minutes/mile) that means the car is moving 4000 minutes a year. There are 525600 minutes in a year so my car is parked (or stopped in traffic) 99.24% of the time. For someone who drives 20000 miles at an average speed of 40 miles/hour (accounting for more freeway driving), the car is parked or stopped in traffic about 94% of the time.

Truck drivers are one of the largest occupation groups in the US. IMO, the first vehicles to get autonomous driving technology will be over the road trucks since a freeway is a much more controlled environment than a city street.

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 35881
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by nisiprius » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:37 pm

I think autonomous vehicles are going to come along more slowly than you'd believe from the hype. And it will be regional. I think this is one of these problems where the last 10% of the problem takes ten times as long to solve as the first 90%.

Right now, we live in a world in which every driver is driving the car most of the time, continuously maintaining our driving skills. An in-between world, in which we are almost never driving, until the car suddenly demands that we take control--and, of course, only does so in particularly difficult and visually confusing situations--will create very hazardous situations. Since the actual accidents will occur at times when the human driver is in control, the carmakers may be able to avoid legal problems but the hazard will still exist.

My area of the country is certainly not California or Florida, but it doesn't have particularly bad weather, either. Probably the northern half of the country is subject to rain, sleet, snow, hail, fog, and road surface damage every winter. When the lines haven't been repainted in a while, they get to be very difficult to see. A thin layer of rain or snow and they all but disappear. They don't use the raised reflector because they don't stand up to snowplows. I don't know exactly how it will all work out, but I think it will soon be evident that we will not have autonomous cars unless, to some extent, the roads are adapted to the cars. There will, in fact, be a requirement for improvements in highway infrastructure--even if it's only a simple as painting the lines more often. But I suspect there will also need to be purpose-built things on the highway--corner reflectors? buried wires? laser beams? to help the autonomous cars see the road.

Unfortunately, all the evidence is that infrastructure is going the other way. The roads are getting slightly worse just at the time as autonomous vehicles need them to be slightly better.

Will we have a world in which autonomous cars are universal in the southern states and unused in the northern states?

So, we will see. With regard to innovations hanging fire, I am typing this at a keyboard. I don't use voice dictation yet. How about you? There's no doubt that computer voice recognition is getting better all the time, and yet speech recognition remains a niche technology. Sure, "at Vanguard my voice is my password." How long has continuous speech recognition been, let's say, 90% solved? And yet I'm using a keyboard.

And there are no safety issues with voice dictation.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
TimeRunner
Posts: 1292
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by TimeRunner » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:22 pm

My feeling is that long distance trucking, particularly in the Western US, will be rapidly automated. I envision large driver depots on the major highway outskirts of major cities (e.g. Grapevine CA, Barstow, CA) where drivers who have picked up loads from major cities (e.g. greater Los Angeles) drive their trucks and then get out and board a bus back to town while the truck switches into autonomous mode and drives to the depot of the destination (e.g. outskirts of Denver or Dallas). There, another driver who was bussed to the depot climbs aboard and does the final driving to the destination(s), picks up new cargo or trailer and heads back to the depot. At the depot, trucks and trailers can be mixed, matched, and swapped as required by schedule, pricing, and other marketplace factors. In this model, there will be few independent truckers, because scale is an advantage, and they won't be driving long-haul, just depot-metro trips. I could be wrong. :happy
One cannot enlighten the unconscious. | "I like people - I just don't want to be around 'em." - Russell Gordy

TravelforFun
Posts: 1297
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by TravelforFun » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:55 pm

Autonomous vehicles and ridesharing will be so disrupting. People who drive for a living should start looking for another career. Bus companies, parking garage owners will be out of business within the next ten years.

WolfgangPauli
Posts: 241
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:28 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by WolfgangPauli » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:47 pm

lthenderson wrote:I am fascinated by the thought of drones (air or land kind) making deliveries but I am not holding my breath that I see it anytime soon near my house. I'm not doubting the technology part but just the ability to do things like that in very rural area of the country. It is 60 miles to the nearest grocery store and if you want a specialty item it is another 100 miles beyond that. This is why I know my UPS driver on a first name basis as he makes almost daily deliveries. Perhaps they will automate UPS trucks and equip them with a drone to take the package "the last mile" as was referred in the video.
You would be a candidate for the other method I discussed.. larger (much larger - think normal size airplane) drone carries a package to a nearby airstrip then a local driver.

Bottom line: Sooner or later you will lose truck service being that far out.. just too expensive.
Twitter: @JAXbogleheads | EM: JAXbogleheads@gmail.com

randomguy
Posts: 5630
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by randomguy » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:28 pm

WolfgangPauli wrote:Drone delivery is almost certainly going to be here but in a different way than people think.

First, I think the most obvious will be drone / truck hybrids. Because of the distance issue from a warehouse we will still load trucks up but rather than stopping at every home the driver will stop at a key central point. From there he will launch drones all through the neighborhood making deliveries.

Another one people are working on are "flying warehouses". So, think of this... at a sporting event Amazon flies a blimp full of product geared towards the event (shirts, hats etc. etc.). You order from your phone and the drone literally delivers to your seat using GPS from your phone.

Third, much larger drones will be used to service rural areas. There are over 3000 landing strips in the US - most in rural areas. Think of Fedex launching a very large (regular aircraft size) drone and landing it in a rural town. A local person then picks up the packages, runs routes locally, picks up returns, puts returns back in the drone and launches it back to the single delivery hub.

If you think I am making this up, I actually got all this from a detailed presentation made by some professors at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals annual meeting. This is "here and now". Not "Star Trek".

Finally, the leader in innovation on this is a professor at Duke named Missy Cummings. She was one of the first female pilots to pilot off an aircraft carrier upon graduating the Naval Academy. As she puts it, she quickly realized the plan can fly better than the human. She said when they did full automation landings on the carriers, the plane ALWAYS landed better than a pilot. A great speech she gave at Duke is here: https://youtu.be/oB0JsLzxIF0

You will be surprised.. unless you die in the next 3 years .. you are going to see this come and it is coming very very fast.
Some tasks that are hard for humans are easy for computers and vice versa. Landing on a carrier is orders of magnitude easier driving around town. We have made insane progress with self driving cars since the first Darpa grand challenge. The self driving car looks like its right around the corner once the last dozen issues are taken care of. The part we don't know is if solving those issues will take longer than solving all the issues up until know. That last 1% can take up all the time in revolutionary products.

A drone serving the rural area sounds great. But you will have to see how the math works out for flying a plane in and out of an area which doesn't have a lot of costumers to start with. Is getting rid of the pilots salary enough to make it worth doing? Who knows. It is easy to sketch things out on paper and do trial runs. Doing this at scale and profitably is often a lot harder.

User avatar
White Coat Investor
Posts: 13308
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Greatest Snow On Earth

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by White Coat Investor » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:41 pm

I'm still waiting on my Jetsons-style flying car.

It's interesting to go back and see 50 year old TV or movies and see what they envisioned that did take place and what didn't.

Batteries. That's the thing. Batteries. They're the limiting factor. If someone can invent a better battery, and I'm not talking 10% better I'm talking 1000% better, that's when we'll see some real advances.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

Carl53
Posts: 1554
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:26 pm

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Carl53 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 2:56 am

I'm waiting for Homeland Security to put the brakes on this. I hope they do before Pandora's box is fully opened. Thinking about this potential outcome would definitely keep me from investing in it.

User avatar
Midpack
Posts: 727
Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:34 am
Location: Chicagoland

Re: Autonomous Vehicles and Drone Deliveries

Post by Midpack » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:02 am

Reducing auto accidents is a primary goal with autonomous cars, not simply replacing humans. In today's level 0-1 cars, 90% of accidents are attributed to human error. Most if not all those accidents could be eliminated, but it's an extraordinarily complex problem. Like others have said, it will probably be decades before fully autonomous level 4-5 cars are more than half the cars on the road - because that last 5-10% capability is far more difficult than the first 90%. Snow remains a huge barrier, just one example.

At the same time it's astonishing how far Tesla, Waymo (Google) and some other SDC teams have come. They demonstrated full level 4 autonomy in ideal circumstances years ago. And Waymo especially, has demonstrated full autonomy in less than ideal circumstances, e.g. dealing with some less than ideal road conditions and bicycles, pedestrians and other vehicles behaving in wildly unpredictable ways. But there are still obstacles.

We'll see at least level 3 cars in the next 5 years from several carmakers (see below). They will be fully autonomous much of the time, but the driver will have to intervene some. It's NOT a direct comparison to a human, but the Waymo vehicles are now averaging over 5,000 miles between 'disengagements' (driver felt a need to take control, usually not an accident imminent) out on open public roads.

It appears AI will have a role. The leading teams have realized they can't rely solely on billions of if-then statements, the cars will have to learn with every new object, behavior, condition and road they "see."

Driverless level 5 autonomous vehicles will appear on limited intercity open road highways and in urban areas first, more predictable, routine routes on roads that can more easily be kept suitable for driverless cars (and trucks). Then they'll grow into suburbs, and finally, rural areas will probably be (much) later, less demand and more variable road conditions/mapping/AI learning. It's possible very remote locations won't be served at all.

Then there are the thorny questions of mixing driverless cars with manually driven cars over many years. How will auto insurance change? Will fully autonomous cars be too expensive for anyone but the wealthy, or will they be relatively affordable within a few years? Will most people rely on car/ride sharing in autonomous cars, or will they still want their own (and can afford them)? Will roads have to be modified substantially, or will cars adapt, or somewhere between? Will manually driven cars eventually be outlawed on public roads - yep, but probably not in our lifetimes? Lots of regulatory hurdles? The questions are endless, but fortunately the more advanced teams have already faced hundreds of thousands of these questions on our behalf.

It's going to be fascinating to watch this evolve. I can't wait!

Interesting read if you want more http://www.driverless-future.com/?page_id=774

Image

Image
You only live once...

Locked