Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Driverless buses could come first


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 mariner

mariner
  • Member

  • 1,769 posts
  • Joined: January 07

Posted 29 December 2018 - 15:21

As ever if this has been covered already sorry.

 

I had one of my very rare bus rides yesterday and it struck  me that, with one important caveat, buses are a far more logical introduction point for level 5 autonomy than cars.

 

Why?

 

- buses have a expensive professional  driver so there is an actual cash benefit from going driverless. A  bus running from 7 am to 11 pm needs 2.5 drivers to cover the schedule.at a 40 hour week. In the UK that is about £100k per year with pension, social security etc.

 

- A bus costs around £200K versus a car at £20K so the cost of the on- board sensors and computers is a smaller penalty than the car.

 

- Level 5 seem s to be moving towards using intensely detailed location data to aid the sensors in decision making and as buses travel a few fixed routes such data will be much smaller than needed in car which may use many different routes each day.

 

The caveat is the level of R+D funding available for buses vs cars. Bus builders don't have billions to spend like the big auto and internet companies. Of course for  Mercedes Benz that might not be true as they make both lots of cars and lots of buses.



Advertisement

#2 Dmitriy_Guller

Dmitriy_Guller
  • Member

  • 4,723 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 29 December 2018 - 16:49

I would guess that most self-driving cars will be mass-transit vehicles of some kind anyway.  Car ownership now only makes economic sense because you can't share them efficiently when they need someone to ferry them.



#3 Charlieman

Charlieman
  • Member

  • 1,576 posts
  • Joined: October 09

Posted 29 December 2018 - 17:59

- buses have a expensive professional  driver so there is an actual cash benefit from going driverless. A  bus running from 7 am to 11 pm needs 2.5 drivers to cover the schedule.at a 40 hour week. In the UK that is about £100k per year with pension, social security etc.

 

- A bus costs around £200K versus a car at £20K so the cost of the on- board sensors and computers is a smaller penalty than the car.

 

- Level 5 seem s to be moving towards using intensely detailed location data to aid the sensors in decision making and as buses travel a few fixed routes such data will be much smaller than needed in car which may use many different routes each day.

 

The caveat is the level of R+D funding available for buses vs cars. Bus builders don't have billions to spend like the big auto and internet companies. Of course for  Mercedes Benz that might not be true as they make both lots of cars and lots of buses.

I think the driver cost of running a bus is more than you suggest. Allowing for breaks, you need three drivers to cover those hours. And the employment cost (1.3 or more times wage cost) is higher than you'd first think.

 

The UK bus I caught this afternoon pulls into a reserved spot so that it does not block the left hand lane. Over the next 100 yards, it crosses three lanes of traffic into the fourth right hand lane. I've caught that bus hundreds of times and the drivers have never hit a car or braked suddenly. That manoeuvre takes a lot more skill than a typical public service vehicle licence owner possesses. It's a manoeuvre that AV designers have nightmares about.

 

Buses, lorries and their professional drivers have to pull off some awkward stunts to get where they are going. Drivers are advised not to reverse onto a trunk road, but if that is the only way out, commercial vehicle drivers reverse out.

 

Has anyone put a tow bar on an AV car with a boat or caravan at the back?



#4 GreenMachine

GreenMachine
  • Member

  • 1,368 posts
  • Joined: March 04

Posted 30 December 2018 - 01:39

... most self-driving cars will be mass-transit vehicles of some kind anyway.  ...


Maybe you have a different kind of 'mass transit' in mind, but I just can't see that. 'Of some sort'?! Poor, inefficient, congestion-inducing are the sorts that spring to my mind ...

Mass transit requires shifting VERY large numbers of people from/to a small area over a VERY short time.  Trains and, to a lesser extent buses, fill that role, and the discussions that I see seem to suggest that AVs may substitute for private vehicles for commuters, not for trains and buses.  Having said that, driverless trains are operating in some situations, and Mariner's post is closer to the 'AV for mass transit' than the notion of train or bus passengers deserting them for a cosy AV ride home.



#5 404KF2

404KF2
  • Member

  • 6,586 posts
  • Joined: October 99

Posted 30 December 2018 - 06:58

It's gonna be fun messing with driverless buses.... the teenagers will be doing stuff to make them stop, back up and do weird stuff, just because they can.  The other road users, like pedestrians, might want to have some say too.  Theoretically it's a better application but unless it's grade separated from other modes of transport, I don't see it happening.



#6 PiperPa42

PiperPa42
  • Member

  • 4,577 posts
  • Joined: March 15

Posted 30 December 2018 - 07:43

During the ITS World Congress in Copenhagen this year they ran driverless shuttle busses from the Metro station to the entrance of the conference center. It wasn't a long distance or at a high speed, but they did it on roads open to all other traffic. Adding to this there are several municipalities in Denmark waitting who have already signed up with partners to test driverless busses to get personel around between there different work sites. 



#7 Dmitriy_Guller

Dmitriy_Guller
  • Member

  • 4,723 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 30 December 2018 - 21:28

Maybe you have a different kind of 'mass transit' in mind, but I just can't see that. 'Of some sort'?! Poor, inefficient, congestion-inducing are the sorts that spring to my mind ...

Mass transit requires shifting VERY large numbers of people from/to a small area over a VERY short time.  Trains and, to a lesser extent buses, fill that role, and the discussions that I see seem to suggest that AVs may substitute for private vehicles for commuters, not for trains and buses.  Having said that, driverless trains are operating in some situations, and Mariner's post is closer to the 'AV for mass transit' than the notion of train or bus passengers deserting them for a cosy AV ride home.

I have in mind a middle ground between a taxi and a bus.  A taxi that can take on multiple passengers going to different destinations, with a dispatching system working out the logistics on the fly. 

 

The mass transit you have in mind is the way it is because it was designed more than a 100 years ago.  The limitations of having to have an operator, as well as fixed routes, made them what they currently are, as with those limitations that's the most efficient solution.  Having driverless cars would changes so many fundamentals that failing to question the basics would limit the improvements they could bring to everyone's life.



#8 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 16,220 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 30 December 2018 - 22:47

I have in mind a middle ground between a taxi and a bus.  A taxi that can take on multiple passengers going to different destinations, with a dispatching system working out the logistics on the fly.

They have these in a lot of poorer countries.  In Uganda, they are called 'matatus', and in South America, they are often known as 'collectivas'.  A minibus with a driver and sometimes, a small boy who shouts out the destinations, which run on semi-fixed routes, but varied on demand.

 

As ever, nothing new under the sun.



#9 GreenMachine

GreenMachine
  • Member

  • 1,368 posts
  • Joined: March 04

Posted 31 December 2018 - 00:33

Agree, that modern (?!) mass transit is a product of another distant technological age.  However, I suspect that the modern GPS/mapping sitting on the dash (or in the dispatcher's computer) will give you most, if not all, of the routing information you associate with the AV, making services such as you describe possible now.  We have an after-hours bus system here (using mini-buses) that I suspect uses such technology.  It also exists in the multi-hire taxi service which I have used going from the airport to the CBD, a much cruder variant where the driver does the routing 'on the fly'.

 

There may be improvements in efficiency for AVs operating in highly congested roadspace.  Whether they would offset the larger number of smaller capacity vehicles you envisage I would doubt, given the numbers crammed into buses in peak hour.  If AVs are to have an impact on mass transit they will have to address the physical constraints of peak hour traffic, as well as the technological challenges.



#10 Dmitriy_Guller

Dmitriy_Guller
  • Member

  • 4,723 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 31 December 2018 - 07:39

Nothing would keep you from having high density mass transit in the future, if that still makes sense.  One of the problem with today's mass transit systems is that it doesn't exist in a lot of places, because there is no critical mass for it.  The lower density on-demand options that AVs without driver costs would be able to offer would be an improvement over the nothing option that exists today.  Another problem is that even if a good mass transit system is still often quite inconvenient, because the fixed routes you have to navigate don't always fit your need.  That's why Uber and taxis are still very popular in NYC.

 

Let's look at it from another angle.  What sense would it make to keep your car with you at all times, having to find parking for it and having it sit idle?  It's a huge inefficiency.  This inefficiency cannot be addressed today, because there needs to be at least one human tied to the car at all times if it's going somewhere, but once the car can drive away on its own, there are much better things it can do than wait for you to need a ride again.  Once your car gets shared, then it makes more sense to rent rather than own, and from there on it's just an exercise of optimizing the utility of a single vehicle.  Having 4-5 seats in the car would probably not be an optimal configuration in the AV paradigm.



#11 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,572 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 31 December 2018 - 11:54

Another vote for the minibus with a random schedule in Vanuatu. You pay a dollar, they take you where you are going. Along the way they stop for other people. If 3 aunties get on and want to stop at a particular bakery to pick up their croissants, then that's what happens.  



#12 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,572 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 31 December 2018 - 20:57

I think that AV buses only need L4, which is 'good' in that L5 is a long ways off.



#13 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 16,220 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 01 January 2019 - 17:49

I think that AV buses only need L4, which is 'good' in that L5 is a long ways off.

Does L4 incude giving passengers their change from a £10 note, and deciding whether the pretty girl is really still entitled to a kid's half-fare?  Bus drivers do a lot more than avoiding running over old ladies. I don't think that the human being is completely redundant yet.



#14 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,572 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 02 January 2019 - 08:56

Cashless buses are already a reality. That is, in the People's Republic of Victoria if you don't have a cashed up Myki card, you don't get to ride on the bus. In italy you buy tokens from the local shops, and put a token in the slot when you get on board. I think you are confusing bus driver with some sort of social worker.



#15 gruntguru

gruntguru
  • Member

  • 6,625 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 02 January 2019 - 09:15

:up:  :up: Classic!  :rotfl:



#16 Charlieman

Charlieman
  • Member

  • 1,576 posts
  • Joined: October 09

Posted 02 January 2019 - 16:34

I think you are confusing bus driver with some sort of social worker.

Why not? If a company runs a bus service where there are lots of people who need help, then the bus operator employs sympathetic people on that service. it's what they do in some places -- take a small loss on operating costs by running more slowly if it gets more people on the bus.

 

Where I live, people say "thank you" to the driver when alighting. Every bus has an entrance flap at the door which can fold down for wheel chair passengers; every time the flap is used, others on the bus can see for whom it is used when the driver gets out of his/her seat; it adds a minute to the journey once in a while.

 

People who use buses frequently are different from people who use buses rarely.

 

There's the old quotation attributed to Margaret Thatcher, probably falsely: "A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure."

 

It doesn't matter much whether the quotation is true. It's the concept of getting on a bus with people who are different. Some people find it hard to get on a bus with common people who ate garlic last night. Some people drive around in cars so that they don't have to meet other people. They're not going to enter a shared taxi with "smelly people". They want their own smelly space.

 

Uber was designed for people like them. That's what they thought. They won't love it when Uber charges them the full rate for their subsidised service. They won't like using the night bus after Uber has killed off private hire car firms.

 

Edit: can to car


Edited by Charlieman, 02 January 2019 - 16:36.


#17 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 16,220 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 02 January 2019 - 17:04

Cashless buses are already a reality. That is, in the People's Republic of Victoria if you don't have a cashed up Myki card, you don't get to ride on the bus. In italy you buy tokens from the local shops, and put a token in the slot when you get on board. I think you are confusing bus driver with some sort of social worker.

Yes, in London, the buses are cashless.  They aren't here in Surrey though.  And the driver still has to deal with real people, with their annoying tendency to be 'non-standard' in some way, like being elderley and a bit infirm, or being disabled, or being a mother with buggy and toddlers, or being a bit dim and not knowing exactly where they want to go.  So yes, the driver does have some social worker traits.  Are you suggesting that this is a bad thing which ought to be suppressed?



#18 Charlieman

Charlieman
  • Member

  • 1,576 posts
  • Joined: October 09

Posted 02 January 2019 - 18:00

Yes, in London, the buses are cashless.  

I had more than one nice bus trip into the country from Hong Kong (if you go to Hong Kong, sooner or later you really need the country!). There was a post arrangement next to the driver where you swiped your card. Most people used that. There was an honesty box on the floor for cash.



#19 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,572 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 03 January 2019 - 15:18

Ah, the good old days, when every lift (elevator) had a Lift/elevator boy to ensure that people in wheelchairs weren't crushed in the remorseless doors of death. Amazingly we seem to have managed to invent the door hold button and trained passengers to use it.



Advertisement

#20 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 16,220 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 03 January 2019 - 16:24

In some ways, buses may look like easier candidates to become driverless than cars, given that they follow generally fixed routes.  But there are issues nevertheless, even leaving aside the need (or not) for a human driver.  Interestingly, the Docklands Light Railway in East London has been driverless since its inception and very successfully so, but the trains still have a conductor/guard aboard to deal with those difficult cases where people won't fit neatly into computer code.  But I doubt that arrangement would be acceptable for buses.

 

Buses have to cope with traffic, and drivers need to be assertive in order to pull away from stops when traffic is heavy.  Can an algorithm be written to tell the bus to pull out DESPITE the BMW that is bearing down on it, relying on the car driver's commonsense (even a BMW driver!) to give way?  I have some doubts.  More likely, the bus will sit patiently awaiting a gap which, in many cities, isn't happening any time soon. Similarly when it is busy, a bus may not quite reach its appointed bus stop, but the driver will let people on and off nearby rather than sit and wait until the traffic moves on and it can actually get to the stop.  Or if another bus is already there.  Will an algorithm be able to cope with that?  I doubt it again; more likely, passengers both on and off the bus will have a frustrating wait until the bus reaches its stop.  They may get annoyed and set light to the damned thing.

 

There is more to these matters than at first meets the eye.  Yes, the basic driving could be automated, but the lack of a human interface to deal with these social and traffic issues remains a major problem.


Edited by BRG, 03 January 2019 - 16:25.


#21 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
  • Member

  • 9,546 posts
  • Joined: July 08

Posted 04 January 2019 - 00:03

Nothing would keep you from having high density mass transit in the future, if that still makes sense.  One of the problem with today's mass transit systems is that it doesn't exist in a lot of places, because there is no critical mass for it.  The lower density on-demand options that AVs without driver costs would be able to offer would be an improvement over the nothing option that exists today.  Another problem is that even if a good mass transit system is still often quite inconvenient, because the fixed routes you have to navigate don't always fit your need.  That's why Uber and taxis are still very popular in NYC.

 

Let's look at it from another angle.  What sense would it make to keep your car with you at all times, having to find parking for it and having it sit idle?  It's a huge inefficiency.  This inefficiency cannot be addressed today, because there needs to be at least one human tied to the car at all times if it's going somewhere, but once the car can drive away on its own, there are much better things it can do than wait for you to need a ride again.  Once your car gets shared, then it makes more sense to rent rather than own, and from there on it's just an exercise of optimizing the utility of a single vehicle.  Having 4-5 seats in the car would probably not be an optimal configuration in the AV paradigm.

What in life would get anyone on a driverless bus. In traffic with thousands of other vehicles and pedestrian and some cases animals as well.

Aeroplanes crash way too often, and they have thousands of km of sky and very few other things to hit. But they hit each other, hit mountains etc etc daily somewhere in the world.

I have been on ONE passenger bus since 1980. But avoid the things daily. And 12 days on a Tourist bus last year. With a very good driver thank the Lord. So many are not.

Here in Adelaide we have it seems more import bus and cab drivers, many who should never have been given a licence. And it shows. But driverless???? , how would it ever go across 3 or 4 lanes of peak hour traffic which bus routes do far too often. It would sit there for 3 or 4 hours until the traffic lightens up. IF the people who plan these routes stopped and thought 2/3 of bus routes would be changed. And large numbers of busstops dropped or moved. So the vehicle can get in the appropriate lane to make turns. There is about 10 potentially very dumb busstops in my immediate area. And when the train breaks down buses in my street that simply do not fit. And what will they do then?  Or even with never ending roadworks? The computer will shut down,, either that or have an accident. Or potentially both!!  Happens with semi autonomous trains. And they run on rails. In NW Australia they had autonomous ore trains. Now they have drivers to supervise the trains! After a couple of massive derailments. These trains are a mile plus long! Production loss when they are spending days fixing the faults is way too expensive. 

When people and manufacturers sit down and look at the real world and junk all this autonomous rubbish, as well as for the most part electric vehicles the world will be far better off.

And manage to stop aeroplanes falling out of the sky daily!

The only autonomy I use is cruise control, something which saves my back but unless you are very alert will kill you as well. And in too many cases will either stop working or go faster when you press 'resume'. I have scared myself too many times with vehicles and or skippys [and once a cow] coming straight out in front of you. The small delay getting your foot on the brake can be way too long. And I drive looking well ahead unlike so many who do not look past the bonnet it appears. I know of numerous cruise control accidents and fatalities as well where the driver nods off. And gets worse every year. 



#22 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
  • Member

  • 9,546 posts
  • Joined: July 08

Posted 04 January 2019 - 00:16

Cashless buses are already a reality. That is, in the People's Republic of Victoria if you don't have a cashed up Myki card, you don't get to ride on the bus. In italy you buy tokens from the local shops, and put a token in the slot when you get on board. I think you are confusing bus driver with some sort of social worker.

That Greg when the Myki system is working! Which way too often does not. Not my experience but of people I know who live and work in Mexico.

And not much better here in SA. My last few train trips have been free as there is noone to sell me a ticket. And as a very casual user I am not up with how, why and where to buy a ticket. And on a couple of occasions glad I did not as the train I wanted to catch to get to the city or showgrounds simply did not turn up. I have a train station one end of my street and a shopping centre with THREE bus stops in front of it. People could not be expected to walk a couple of hundred metres! And even better yet another one about 150 metres south of the shops. I had me car yard there and we had chain collisions there oh so often.

Often caused by the buses,,, and dumb drivers too. All of which snarl up traffic big time. 4 stops where one should be enough

All this garbage is not for efficiency but a very expensive way to save money. 



#23 mariner

mariner
  • Member

  • 1,769 posts
  • Joined: January 07

Posted 04 January 2019 - 18:02

Some interesting comments!

 

I don't see the need fro a bus to pull out into traffic as disadvantage versus an AV car because buses are a discreet type of vehicle already favoured by governments so all you do is make it law to let the bus out. Either let it out as human driver, or get booked via CCTV, or if an AV be programmed to let it out in front of you.

 

Given the amount of 5G mobile traffic expected to be devoted to AV's the bus wil probably simply send a signal to the nearby car to let it in.

 

 I suspect a more interesting question is a bicycle. Buses, trucks  and cars are expected to keep well clear of them so how does any AV overtake a cycle?

 

To illustrate the problem the latest UK Highway Code , which isn't quite a law but must be followed stipulates a car driver must allow 5ft or 1.5 metres space when overtaking a cycle.

 

Now that will pose big problem for an AV ( car, bus or truck). I has to recognise a cycle , then ascertain its direction before calculating the 5 ft gap. It then has to check not only for oncoming cars so it can move into the opposing " wrong" lane but also identify any traffic  seperators or parked vehicles  up ahead which might stop it overtaking , or cause the cycle to pull out and require more road space .

 

Obviously you can program it to be extremely cautious but that will result in a long line of AV's doing 10-15 mph for miles until the  bicycle pulls over!


Edited by mariner, 04 January 2019 - 18:59.


#24 MatsNorway

MatsNorway
  • Member

  • 2,721 posts
  • Joined: December 09

Posted 20 January 2019 - 15:23

What i do not get is why it is not talked about or talked about more in the railway sector.



#25 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 16,220 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 20 January 2019 - 16:18

What i do not get is why it is not talked about or talked about more in the railway sector.

In the UK, we are having enough trouble getting one-man operation of trains past the Communist Party...I mean the railway trade unions. 

 

But the Docklands Light Railway in East London (quite a large network now) has been entirely driverless since day one, now over 30 years ago, with few incidents, so the technology is quite mature. For example, London's Victoria Line (part of the  Underground) which opened in 1968 was intended as driverless but the CP put a stop to that.

 

More and more metro and subway systems are driverless.  Currently, the Glasgow subway is being converted.  Some parts of the upgraded Thameslink system in London (a through route North-South) allow for automated operation, albeit overseen by a union member.  And there is a seriously long driverless freight line in Australia delivering ore from the interior to the coast, although there are only kangaroos at risk during the journey!

 

So the process is far more advanced on rails than on roads, which is not surprising given that rail is far more controlled and regulated environment with no need for steering and little worry about cyclists and pedestrians!


Edited by BRG, 20 January 2019 - 16:20.


#26 Greg Locock

Greg Locock
  • Member

  • 5,572 posts
  • Joined: March 03

Posted 20 January 2019 - 20:56

  And there is a seriously long driverless freight line in Australia delivering ore from the interior to the coast, although there are only kangaroos at risk during the journey!

 

 

One mining  company also operates massive driverless trucks in its open cast mines. https://thewest.com....o-ng-b88693612z