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Old 20th February 2017, 18:58   #361
Emblematic
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Originally Posted by najaB View Post
I know that, and I fully expect we will see more and more systems like Tesla's Autopilot over the next few years. However, at some point even the easy task will be more than the automation can handle - it could be something as simple as water getting into a connector causing the sensors to drop out.

The point I was making is that, if that were to happen, a remote operator in a contact centre somewhere in the world isn't going to be much use to me when I'm heading towards a bridge abutment at 70mph (or, for that matter, if the failure is in the HGV that's behind me and my car has to brake rapidly).
I think, in the early iterations, this will be the failure mode - stop the vehicle, driver takes control. Over time, as the failures get rarer, the need for a driver will be eliminated - the remaining occupant, be they passenger, goods handler or whatever - will most likely have a guided process to reset the system, and if the failure persists, follow prompts to enable a degraded, 'limp home' mode. If all else fails, you stay put and call for an engineer - not really so different from today's vehicles.
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Old 21st February 2017, 01:07   #362
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Because if it doesn't, the cost of traditional signalling systems will cripple the railways financially. It might not be called ETCS Level 3 and it may not have the moving-block part but you can be guaranteed that you'll be using purely wireless control for movement authority eventually.
That's complete rubbish. The cables for TCB are already in place. And unless it can be proven to be completely safe and reliable then it will not happen.
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Old 21st February 2017, 03:27   #363
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That's complete rubbish. The cables for TCB are already in place. And unless it can be proven to be completely safe and reliable then it will not happen.
How can you say Notatrainspotter is talking rubbish? Your evidence please.
I,& others,have found his postings exciting,thought provoking & really positive compared to your persistent negativity. The idea of low cost cableless sensors that draw power from the 25kv AC varying field is very very interesting & really useful for a safe automated railway. I only did A level physics, & some years ago now,i.e. not a degree. But my worry with this interesting idea is that if there is no train in the 25kv section, or if the trains in the section are coasting with very little auxiliary power being drawn,perhaps empty stock with heating,air con off,then there will be no current in the overhead wire & so no field. Also neutral sections of wire will have the same zero field problem. Am I right that no amps in overhead means no field & no field means no power for sensors set in rails,or cableless sensors on passing trains? Is this a serious barrier to these low cost sensors?
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Old 21st February 2017, 10:23   #364
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I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. It's likely more than ten but less than thirty years before the majority of road vehicles are capable of fully autonomous driving.
Normally the cost of learning to drive is split over about 50 years (from 20 to 70) of driving. So now it's down to 30 years, probably less than that. I suspect I'll be the last generation of my family to learn to drive, by the time my eldest is old enough your timescale will be down to about 15 years, and that's for the majority. Add the cost of insurance, fuel, and most crucially the availability of things like uber (perhaps automated) means it wouldn't be required.

The march of automation will be driven by more effective utilisation of assets. There's a large cost up front to develop the technology, so how fast it happens depends on how much money will be saved. In the case of HGVs, automated driving would not only allow the removal of the driver (saving £10 an hour), but also allow all those pesky tacograph stops (allowing a HGV to be utilised for 20 hours a day rather than 8).

There are fewer financial benefits of automating a plane completely -- the cost of the pilots is rather small compared with the cost of running a plane (you'd still need cabin crew), and while there are occasional issues down-route, especially on long haul, which lead to delays or cancellations they are fairly small. I suspect that automation will remove the need for a co-pilot at some stage though (there still will be co-pilots on some flights, if just for the training purposes)

Trains are somewhere between. The 1 car 'train' I got today ran for 4 hours, had 2 members of staff aboard, and few passengers. Ripe for automation or replacement with something from the 21st (or even 20th) century. On the assumption that the majority of road vehicles will be capable of fully autonomous driving in 30 years, why will this train continue? Either passengers will be using more efficient cheaper automated taxi/busses, or the train itself will be automated.

A mainline train travelling at 180mph with 500 passengers on board has less to save from removing the driver though, and less competition from automated road vehicles.

The saving from automating driving is like the saving Southern are hoping from DOO. Not to remove the guard (at least initially), but to ensure that if there's no guard for some reason the asset is not sat idle because of a lack of staff.
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Old 21st February 2017, 11:16   #365
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How can you say Notatrainspotter is talking rubbish? Your evidence please.
Evidence that there are cables in the ground? Surely that would be the fact that there are cables in the ground.
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Old 21st February 2017, 11:47   #366
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Normally the cost of learning to drive is split over about 50 years (from 20 to 70) of driving. So now it's down to 30 years, probably less than that. I suspect I'll be the last generation of my family to learn to drive, by the time my eldest is old enough your timescale will be down to about 15 years, and that's for the majority. Add the cost of insurance, fuel, and most crucially the availability of things like uber (perhaps automated) means it wouldn't be required.
This is what I find most interesting - peoples' decision to become motorists being deferred by a technology that will likely get deferred by any number of legal, societal and possibly technical reasons.

When cars came along the railways responded with internal combustion powered "railcars", but of course this did not protect them from losing a lot of their business. Now that today's Digital natives get mobility as required from the cloud, the car people are responding to this by attempting to make their cars mistakable for smartphones.

I personally think that the wider society has had enough of untrammelled computerisation for now - the current US president articulates these views. I think that society is becoming less willing to embrace driver-less cars with each passing month.

Now with regard to NotATrainspott and his visions, I reckon the downfall of everything being networked relates to cyber security. Aircraft and train systems - at least those that have the authority to drive - should in my view be hardwired (or at least on a read-only memory) and offline.

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Old 21st February 2017, 12:18   #367
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Old 21st February 2017, 12:25   #368
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Originally Posted by paulweaver View Post
Normally the cost of learning to drive is split over about 50 years (from 20 to 70) of driving. So now it's down to 30 years, probably less than that. I suspect I'll be the last generation of my family to learn to drive, by the time my eldest is old enough your timescale will be down to about 15 years, and that's for the majority. Add the cost of insurance, fuel, and most crucially the availability of things like uber (perhaps automated) means it wouldn't be required.

The march of automation will be driven by more effective utilisation of assets. There's a large cost up front to develop the technology, so how fast it happens depends on how much money will be saved. In the case of HGVs, automated driving would not only allow the removal of the driver (saving £10 an hour), but also allow all those pesky tacograph stops (allowing a HGV to be utilised for 20 hours a day rather than 8).

There are fewer financial benefits of automating a plane completely -- the cost of the pilots is rather small compared with the cost of running a plane (you'd still need cabin crew), and while there are occasional issues down-route, especially on long haul, which lead to delays or cancellations they are fairly small. I suspect that automation will remove the need for a co-pilot at some stage though (there still will be co-pilots on some flights, if just for the training purposes)

Trains are somewhere between. The 1 car 'train' I got today ran for 4 hours, had 2 members of staff aboard, and few passengers. Ripe for automation or replacement with something from the 21st (or even 20th) century. On the assumption that the majority of road vehicles will be capable of fully autonomous driving in 30 years, why will this train continue? Either passengers will be using more efficient cheaper automated taxi/busses, or the train itself will be automated.

A mainline train travelling at 180mph with 500 passengers on board has less to save from removing the driver though, and less competition from automated road vehicles.

The saving from automating driving is like the saving Southern are hoping from DOO. Not to remove the guard (at least initially), but to ensure that if there's no guard for some reason the asset is not sat idle because of a lack of staff.
The HGV stuff is spot on, and why automation will be more beneficial than just the reduction in labour cost. Hauliers will be able to move just as much stuff with fewer trucks, and in a free market that inevitably means lower costs for the rest of the economy.

Cargo aircraft are more ripe for automation than passenger ones for those reasons, and the ones that I have previously described. Also worth remembering when you automate a vehicle completely is that you no longer need to waste money on keeping it habitable for the drivers or pilots. A pilot-less cargo aircraft wouldn't need to be pressurised, resulting in huge cost savings for airframe design, maintenance and a much longer lifespan for the asset.

The main advantage of automating a train is that it allows far more optimisation of capacity than is economically feasible otherwise. One notable example of this is that Elizabeth line trains terminating at Paddington from the east will be permitted to drive themselves unattended into the Westbourne Park sidings and then back into the eastbound platform. This isn't intended for use when things are running to time but if there is disruption it will allow the driver to walk from one cab to another while the train is reversing, minimising turnaround time. It seems quite plausible therefore that the first application of full autonomy-based UTO on the heavy rail network will be in ECS operations.

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Originally Posted by najaB View Post
Evidence that there are cables in the ground? Surely that would be the fact that there are cables in the ground.
Cables that will need replaced at the end of their lifespan.

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Originally Posted by squizzler View Post
This is what I find most interesting - peoples' decision to become motorists being deferred by a technology that will likely get deferred by any number of legal, societal and possibly technical reasons.

When cars came along the railways responded with internal combustion powered "railcars", but of course this did not protect them from losing a lot of their business. Now that today's Digital natives get mobility as required from the cloud, the car people are responding to this by attempting to make their cars mistakable for smartphones.

I personally think that the wider society has had enough of untrammelled computerisation for now - the current US president articulates these views. I think that society is becoming less willing to embrace driver-less cars with each passing month.

Now with regard to NotATrainspott and his visions, I reckon the downfall of everything being networked relates to cyber security. Aircraft and train systems - at least those that have the authority to drive - should in my view be hardwired (or at least on a read-only memory) and offline.
People will not have a choice in the matter, because the bulk of these decisions are driven purely by market forces and not personal choice. People want cheap groceries and if Tesco start using autonomous trucks to move things from their distribution centres to their supermarkets, then they'll be able to offer lower prices on essentials than their traditional competition. Soon enough all of the companies will have no choice but to follow. Also worth remembering is that much of the labour upheaval caused by automation is happening behind closed doors. If Tesco opens an entirely automated distribution centre then no one outside of the company would ever see or understand that it exists, just as people don't really know or understand how their Amazon or Ocado orders are processed. All people are exposed and really care about in the end is the price, and people want more things for less money. As people find it harder to gain meaningful employment they'll have less money to spend on essentials, making autonomy-heavy companies even more competitive due to their intrinsic lower prices. The unemployed taxi driver who might find work somewhere may well have no option but to use the autonomous taxi that made him unemployed to get there.
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Old 21st February 2017, 12:49   #369
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Cables that will need replaced at the end of their lifespan.
Cables in the ground have a near-infinite lifespan if properly insulated and not disturbed.
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Old 21st February 2017, 12:55   #370
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People will not have a choice in the matter, because the bulk of these decisions are driven purely by market forces and not personal choice. People want cheap groceries and if Tesco start using autonomous trucks to move things from their distribution centres to their supermarkets, then they'll be able to offer lower prices on essentials than their traditional competition. Soon enough all of the companies will have no choice but to follow. Also worth remembering is that much of the labour upheaval caused by automation is happening behind closed doors. If Tesco opens an entirely automated distribution centre then no one outside of the company would ever see or understand that it exists, just as people don't really know or understand how their Amazon or Ocado orders are processed. All people are exposed and really care about in the end is the price, and people want more things for less money. As people find it harder to gain meaningful employment they'll have less money to spend on essentials, making autonomy-heavy companies even more competitive due to their intrinsic lower prices. The unemployed taxi driver who might find work somewhere may well have no option but to use the autonomous taxi that made him unemployed to get there.
Off topic but people absolutely do have a choice in the matter. The economy (and therefore market incentives, subsidies etc) is in the hand of politicians. And yes, most complex technology does require subsidy in one way or another - the allowing of firms to externalise their costs and internalise the profits - of course they will never call it a subsidy as such. And if the political system fails to heed the population for long enough, well that is how revolutions start.

Some day I'm sure you will look back fondly at how you once evangelised the silicon valley hype. All part of growing wise through experience. Of course some things will stick, but life will go on, and there will probably still be semaphore signals somewhere.

Oh and I did notice you ducked my suggestion that aircraft autopilots and trains must not be connected to the wider internet (unless this was already addressed elsewhere). That seems the main barrier to the more whimsical ideas - and the cyber security threats seem only to be growing still. We don't know how compromised our existing critical systems really are, not everybody will show their hand.
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Old 21st February 2017, 18:31   #371
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Cables in the ground have a near-infinite lifespan if properly insulated and not disturbed.
Only for as long as the cables are fit for purpose. Resignalling works will eventually be needed and that's when you often need to replace the cables. At that point in time, why would you arbitrarily decide to use a more expensive way of delivering the same, or less, capacity?

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Off topic but people absolutely do have a choice in the matter. The economy (and therefore market incentives, subsidies etc) is in the hand of politicians. And yes, most complex technology does require subsidy in one way or another - the allowing of firms to externalise their costs and internalise the profits - of course they will never call it a subsidy as such. And if the political system fails to heed the population for long enough, well that is how revolutions start.

Some day I'm sure you will look back fondly at how you once evangelised the silicon valley hype. All part of growing wise through experience. Of course some things will stick, but life will go on, and there will probably still be semaphore signals somewhere.

Oh and I did notice you ducked my suggestion that aircraft autopilots and trains must not be connected to the wider internet (unless this was already addressed elsewhere). That seems the main barrier to the more whimsical ideas - and the cyber security threats seem only to be growing still. We don't know how compromised our existing critical systems really are, not everybody will show their hand.
Automation doesn't require subsidy though. An autonomous taxi will be cheaper than a traditional taxi in every respect. There is no negative externality of automation in the traditional sense because the act of automation isn't in itself a bad thing. The only reason why people need to be afraid of it is if the government doesn't sort out the welfare system to cope with this new post-work reality. These changes should have happened decades ago, because we no longer have a contributory welfare system based upon the idea of full employment for all of society. In many respects automation is no different to de-industrialisation writ large.

The only feasible welfare system in this world is the Universal Basic Income. That policy will mean that people have absolutely nothing to fear from automation, as their basic income is guaranteed. If you know that you don't need to work to feed yourself, then you will not accept degrading work at low pay as people currently have to in order to survive. People will find themselves living in a perpetual weekend where they're free to do what they want. If you really like playing with semaphore signals then you'll be able to do so every day. However, unlike the times when people were employed to do it, when you get bored you can just walk away and do something else, since ultimately no one else relies upon you doing your job to be able to get around their lives.

Systems which could cause death are already connected to the internet. There is no inherent reason why they must be less secure than a closed system. When Airbus or Boeing do a digital system they have to work much harder to secure it than some random toy manufacturer. It is worth remembering that even if humans were preserved in important roles, they would still rely upon technology to such an extent that you could make the same criticisms about security. If you can hack an Airbus airliner today then it really doesn't matter whether there's a human at the controls, as they're really just telling the computer what to do.
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