Will autonomous cars really make traffic faster?


Autonomous cars will make traffic faster?

Will autonomous cars really make traffic faster?-really

If autonomously driving cars – robots will of course not be behind the wheel – are as reliable as autonomous vacuum cleaners, then we can be prepared for something

Source: Getty Images / Science Photo Library RF

People tend to expect a lot from new technologies. That is a good thing, otherwise there would be no progress. But the prognoses for autonomous driving can only be partially correct?

VYou may be familiar with the phenomenon: There are usually two types of disruptors in school classes. Those who don’t understand anything and are bored because of it, and those who always understand everything immediately and are bored because of it. At first glance, these two groups cannot always be distinguished, but that doesn’t matter, because the objective progress of the whole class is often only as fast as the two or three mentally slowest children allow.

This is a human achievement that sets us apart morally (and makes us think of a lot of stupid pranks when we are young), but it is also incredibly annoying when you are a very intelligent child yourself (not just in your own imagination and that of one’s own parents). Note: In reality, differences in the speed of group members rarely lead to an increase in the average speed.

Another human phenomenon is that we tend to visualize technical solutions – and our own future – in far too optimistic pictures. "When I finally live with my dream man in this house, which is unfortunately far too expensive, but no matter, we’ll manage it, everything will be fine, then we can take a deep breath and be happy."

Or: "My new Porsche will make me totally happy in the long run and irresistible with smart and attractive women.", there are no more accidents and traffic is fast and smooth. "

Who programs the autonomous robots?

As much as I admire this optimism, I fear I cannot share it. Because the first question I ask is: will these autonomous robotic cars come from different manufacturers? If you answer in the affirmative, you can easily get the idea that not all manufacturers, especially those in the lower price segment, provide really smooth machines. Just think of the differences in quality and the effectiveness of vacuum robots.

The next question – which is almost always in the room and which is almost always ignored – is: Who programs the autonomous robots, at least until almighty artificial intelligence has taken control of everything and everyone (i.e. around 2040)? The answer is: people.

Namely people, most of whom have a weakness for strange glasses and printed T-shirts. People who, like all of us, are prone to making mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Faults that get stuck in the brains of the autonomous robots and will sometimes only be recognizable after years. When there was a big crash again.

If you now imagine at the same time that the number of cars will not decrease but increase – regardless of what social democratic or left-wing green preachers tirelessly tell – it quickly becomes funny or even uncomfortable.

What the self-driving car should do in the event of an inevitable accident

Who is liable for an accident involving a self-driving car? Who should the car hit if an accident is inevitable? The ethics committee of the Ministry of Transport has dealt with this. Source: N24 / Matthias Heinrich

Let’s be honest, except for masochists, hardly anyone likes public transport. Yes, commuting from Hamburg to Berlin makes the most sense with Deutsche Bahn, I do not think otherwise. And yes, in real big cities, and we don’t have many of them in Germany, are subways and buses are a great thing. Especially when you don’t have any money. If you have money, then it tends to be less.

When the sun is shining, many prefer cycling, and the further the night has progressed on the weekend, the faster the comfort level (New German "Hyggeligkeit") falls to zero. This has to do with objective and subjective perceived safety and also a little with the appearance and condition of the passengers.

Will this ever change? Only if we introduce socialism and everyone in gray uniforms with one armed political officer per subway car. And who wants that? Please do not answer the last question, otherwise I will lose all optimism, thank you.

The slowest one sets the pace

To stay with the comparison with the school class: Even if all wet traffic dreams come true and by 2030 we will all only be sitting in autonomous electric robots and no longer driving around actual cars (and no cyclists, mopeds, skateboarders, etc.), mine is by no means Anti-progressive thesis that in the end nothing gets faster.

The whole swarm will move as fast as the slowest members. And those will be the flawed, sloppily glued together, or simply poorly programmed robots that people will sit in, who tell us already today that they can hardly wait.

In order to maintain my early morning humor, I like to imagine the whole thing like a 200 square meter loft, full of self-driving vacuum and cleaning robots of all price ranges, all of which try to evade each other and at the same time keep everything nice and clean. Entertaining yes, but …

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17 thoughts on “Will autonomous cars really make traffic faster?”

  1. At least two assumptions from your article are, in my opinion, completely wrong. First, compare human characteristics with the characteristics of computers (because the programs are (still) made by humans. A simple example:
    If you hit ten children and raise them badly (let’s call it human programming error), then each of the ten children will behave differently as adults. One may get vicious, one shy and withdrawn, and so on.
    If you program ten computers with the same error, the resulting error will always be the same in the end. The computer just follows its algorithm. This error can – admittedly also among victims (as with humans) – be optimized in the medium and long term or completely compensated for.

    They also pretend that 30 automakers are each developing autonomous driving for themselves. In the end, the components are only supplied by a few. For example, there are basically only three map services in the world (of similar quality) for navigation and autonomous driving.
  2. And if you buy 10 autonomous cars from VW in the future, you won’t get any. VW is broke because they were unable to manufacture autonomous cars but stuck to the diesel engine and German engineering was used to improve the cheat software.

  3. A very simple question: will the automatic e-cars be on the move on completely autonomous routes or in the "normal traffic"? Since I don’t believe in a complete overhaul of the entire infrastructure, it will probably be normal traffic.

    And now a very everyday situation, not regularly, but quite often in a similar form:
    The car drives towards a green light. Suddenly someone dives across the street who absolutely wants to reach his train. The way is no longer enough to brake, only swerving, and that only on the right edge of the lane, is possible. And right there right now a mother is riding a bike with a baby trailer, which would inevitably be touched.
    And it is precisely here, in such a case, that an automatism should decide. What are the rules? Who is worth more. The leaping pedestrian as a productive member of society who wants to work? Or the mother and child on a bike. Who wants to create such rules? Who wants to judge and then take responsibility for such cases?
    Endless ethical questions and also questions of responsibility arise.

  4. And how does the driver react? What rules does he use to make decisions? How does the judge judge an accident??
    The autonomous car has at least one advantage. The moment of shock is much shorter than that of humans.

  5. The main reason to buy a car is that you can drive from A to B regardless of any timetables. For this it is not important that you turn the steering wheel yourself and step two or three pedals. A self-driving car would be something very nice for that. Even if it doesn’t go any faster, it’s a win.

  6. Nope, it never was for me.
    I want to be able to travel from A to B regardless of timetables.
    And most of the drivers I know bought their cars for that very reason.
    The fascination of turning the steering wheel yourself has long been superseded by the smartphone. Too many can’t stop texting with it even while driving.

  7. Autonomous cars are another, a serious, perhaps the most serious, step towards taming the citizen.

    Apart from the fact that autonomous cars are permanently expensive and the ethical questions (who is to blame for the accident?) Can never really be solved, the autonomous car makes the driver a remote-controlled idiot. And if an evil spirit wants it that way, he / she pushes the button and all these cars just stop at some point. And if I want to drive as slowly or as quickly as the people in front and behind, then I can take the train right away. The attraction of driving a car, even if it is thwarted in traffic jams and rush hour, lies in the individuality, at your own pace, in your own timing. I don’t want to be a zombie whose computers are taking the helm out of hand. At 85 I could imagine something like that for myself, as an upgraded rollator, so to speak, but before that I don’t value it.
    Since I’ve bought a classic car, I’ve known what I really need in a car and what I don’t. I don’t need almost any electronic helpers, especially the nodding ones that beep here, brake there, flash there.

  8. I feel the same way. And it will be huge business, because who can be faster among the same. And who has right of way if this suddenly becomes automatically negotiable? There’s a huge new thing coming our way, I don’t know if it’ll be okay. But it’s going to be expensive!

  9. Technologies continue to evolve, and it always has been and will always be. My new car has all the helpers available and I already know today that it will be old next year because the developers are learning new things and further developments are being introduced. As the number of units increases, cameras and radars become cheaper and better, and you learn more from the algorithms. It will be similar with e-drives, whoever buys it today will not be able to get rid of it in 5 years because the vehicle is hopelessly outdated. It is of little use from our current perspective to weigh up what it will be like in 5 or 10 years’ time. In a first step, autonomous driving will probably be slower, the car starts at the traffic lights and the next one waits 3 seconds to follow, the speed is decently reduced at every pedestrian crossing, etc. But, the technology is advancing rapidly, we let ourselves be surprised.

  10. Anyone who buys an electric drive today will be able to sell a used car well tomorrow because it will then be one of the few used cars that are still allowed to drive into the city.

    Unlike most of the diesels still sold today.
    Note: the used car market plays by completely different rules than the new car market.
    The used car does not have to be compared with much more expensive new cars, but with used cars in the same price range and with their capabilities.

  11. Good contribution…
    I see it that way, even if autonomous vehicles get ready for series production and become affordable, I consider it very doubtful that they will be affordable in the long run.
    – Just think about how much it costs to replace a xenon bulb at a car dealership … you can calculate at least € 100 for the bulb. If the workshop still has to remove the headlight, we are already at easily 200 € and then you just have ONE new bulb in it. -> For older vehicles it costs you € 20 (including everything).
    When I see a colleague of mine with his Golf 7 GTI … the vehicle has not been around that long and has already been to the workshop 16 times (not including inspections). I can buy 2 cars for the money that has gone into every piece of crap here…
    – Autonomous driving will ruin a great many automakers. Then at the latest it doesn’t matter whether you drive a BMW 7 Series, MB S Class or Smart. There is then nothing that is really worth paying more for (except comfort, which future cars will all only be designed for)…

  12. Autonomous cars will finally slavishly comply with the traffic rules, especially the speed limits (!). Tempo 30 then also means 30 km / h and not 45 or 65 km / h,
    That will force the other drivers to adhere to these rules as well. Over time, all road users will notice the disruptions caused by manual vehicles. Autonomous vehicles will not be allowed to force their right of way, but rather negotiate. In terms of safety first and increasing general efficiency second. The vehicles will book the parking spaces at the destination in advance and probably secure them with a lot of money in a bidding process. In addition, road charges will vary depending on the time of day. The rush hour will be very expensive. Traffic will become a commercialized matter.

  13. There will be more traffic (including empty runs).
    The maximum speed of individual traffic in town will be a maximum of 30 km / h. Trams, city trains and subways run 50 or 70/80 km / h.
    Individual (motorized) mobility is becoming significantly more expensive.
    Mixed traffic (conventional and autonomous cars) would continue to exist for decades.
    Therefore, accidents would continue to occur.

    Car lovers who like to drive quickly and aggressively (of which there should be a lot) will think twice about buying a car that has been programmed for a defensive driving style.

  14. Autonomous driving makes traffic faster. The vehicle does not have to wait until the smartphone has to be put aside after stopping at the traffic lights and long traffic jams due to rear-end collisions can also be avoided. An autonomous vehicle is unlikely to attach itself to the rear of the vehicle in front at a distance of three meters at 120 km / h and thus ensure a future full blockage.

  15. Regarding the last sentence: Yes, that is exactly what is being planned. The networked and fully automated convoy formation can ensure significantly higher numbers of vehicles on the same route.

    Networking and communication can already do that.

    In the truck sector that is "Platooning" already planned from 2020, and then the car sector is not far.
    Whether and how we (want to) accept this is another, but not unimportant question.


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