Self-driving cars may end gasoline era 

Posted: April 30, 2016 by oldbrew in predictions, Travel

Driver-less car [image credit: google.com]

Driver-less car [image credit: google.com]


Or they may not. Robotic futures tend not to work out as predicted, but here’s another one, as DW.COM reports.

One likely roadblock is the amount of electricity required to make it feasible. Another one could be public resistance…

By 2025, self-driving cars could lead to a steep decline in fossil fuels – and in personal car ownership. Smart electric vehicles will pick you up, drop you off, and mostly look after themselves. A realistic scenario?

In 2014, in the USA alone, cars traveled an estimated 2,926 billion miles (4,740 billion kilometers) – not always safely. During that year, 32,675 people lost their lives in traffic accidents, and a much larger number were injured.

This meant around $200 billion (175 billion euros) in insurance claims and another $670 billion of uncompensated losses in pain and suffering, lost work-time, damaged gear, emergency services costs and other economic losses, according to figures from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“That works out to about 29.6 cents per mile,” said Brad Templeton, a Canadian expert on autonomous vehicles, who was in Berlin for the Singularity University Germany Summit. That’s more than two and a half times what people spend on fuel per mile on average, given US gasoline prices of $2.14 a gallon.

“Cars are a huge health and environmental hazard, and accidents generate enormous costs. But that’s going to change, because robots don’t drink and drive, they don’t turn into seniors with slow reflexes, and they don’t screw up because of inexperience. They’re going to drive incomparably more safely than people can.” Electric motorbikes could be self-driving too eventually, and likely a lot less deadly.

Self-driving cars are also going to be a lot quieter, use up significantly less land, and save billions of person-hours each year, because they won’t need us to drive them, Templeton said.

And they’re going to cause far less air pollution. Templeton estimated that the shift to self-driving vehicles will eventually reduce US carbon emissions by 200 million tons of CO2 per year, and eliminate other forms of urban air pollution caused by fossil fuel cars, such as nitrous oxides.

Full report: Self-driving cars may end gasoline era | Environment | DW.COM | 25.04.2016

Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    Is lithium the new gasoline?

    The Economist calls it “the world’s hottest commodity”, and talks about a “global scramble to secure supplies of lithium by the world’s largest battery producers, and by end-users such as car makers.”
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Electric-Car-War-Sends-Lithium-Prices-Sky-High.html

  2. A C Osborn says:

    Sounds like Thousands of out of work Taxi Drivers to me.
    I can see it affecting Towns & Cities, but not rural dwellers.

  3. graphicconception says:

    “One likely roadblock is the amount of electricity required to make it feasible. Another one could be public resistance …”

    The article is quite right. As Ohm might have said: too much resistance and electricity will be no use.🙂

  4. pochas94 says:

    They say it’s eco-friendly. But be that as it may, it will be convenient to have it drive you to work, drop you off, and then return home to recharge and be available to your spouse or others, even your children, then return to work to pick you up at a time and place you designate via the internet. You don’t even have to own it. Any car can do this, even a cab company’s. It’s convenience that will drive its adoption.

  5. pochas94 says:

    Actually, I can see driverless cab companies owning most of them.

  6. Fanakapan says:

    Total Recall, Johnny Cab 🙂

  7. oldbrew says:

    Some image-conscious types might have a problem travelling in one of those things 😉

  8. Oldmank says:

    AC Osborne says “Sounds like Thousands of out of work Taxi Drivers to me.” Not likely. Reminds me of a time some 30 odd years ago. Computers were resisted like the plague; putting people out of work. Computers came just the same — in power plant control, since there was no other way with progress. We hired and highjacked every techo we could lay our hands on, including with a nice incentive.

    With a time-before-failure of less than five years (still is, and obsolescence not much more) for electronic control equipment, that’s going to be a lot of work.

  9. pochas94 says:

    “Some image-conscious types might have a problem travelling in one of those things ”

    Yes, for a while, until the fleet owners come up with a luxury model they can charge 10x for. Having one of those waiting for you in a restricted area will be too posh to resist.

  10. Glenn999 says:

    How much electricity will it require to replace the gas guzzlers?

  11. oldbrew says:

    pochas: the original people’s car (VW) wasn’t that pretty either…
    VW beetle
    [credit: howstuffworks.com]

  12. oldbrew says:

    glenn: re ‘How much electricity will it require to replace the gas guzzlers?’

    A lot if the world consumes nearly 100 billion barrels of oil a day. Even if we just refer to petrol aka gasoline it’s a vast amount. The US alone consumed 140 billion gallons of gasoline in 2015.
    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=23&t=10

    Also the number of battery packs needed would be astronomical, which could also stretch resources [see 1st comment above].

    Of course ships, planes and most heavy vehicles like trucks, buses, tractors etc. don’t use gasoline.

  13. Bloke down the pub says:

    This looks much cooler. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ChT9y1kU8AAO_6H.jpg

  14. Glenn999 says:

    thanks oldbrew

    assuming they are against generating electricity from fossil fuels, then their solution requires an additional number of windmills, solar panels or nuclear plants.

    to replace 140 billion gallons of gasoline in the US, how many more of the above will they have to build and at what cost?

  15. ivan says:

    That type of transport might be fine for people that only travel a few kilometres to and from work or the shops but there are many of us that travel several hundred kilometres on a daily basis that don’t fit that profile.

    It is obvious that Brad Templeton has been drinking the Agenda 21 kool aide because most of his statements are directly from that play book – small autonomous communities designed for walking most of the time with regulated public transport between communities and so on. Some green blob idea of utopia that would, if followed, quickly deteriorates to dystopia.

  16. stuartlynne says:

    The point with autonomous vehicles acting as robo-taxis is that a large number of them can operate with smaller ranges (aka smaller batteries) because they can drive themselves to the recharge station to top off the battery between trips as needed. They can be available in a variety of editions for different distances because one that has the range needed for any trip is the one dispatched. They don’t pay the weight penalty for all vehicles. You operate a fleet with assorted sizes to match the demand curve. Small economies add up.

  17. Oldmank says:

    ivan says ” small autonomous communities designed for walking most of the time with regulated public transport between communities ”

    Funny, I remember such a situation some 65 years ago. Seeing a car going by was something one talked about the rest of the week. Fifteen years later I owned one, speed limit was 80 Miles/hr; never drove below that. Today I’d rather walk than crawl sitting.

  18. Oldmank says:

    @ Bloke down the pub : Newton’s third law makes sure your new transporter doubles fuel consumption. In practical terms much more than double.

  19. oldbrew says:

    Glenn: ‘to replace 140 billion gallons of gasoline in the US, how many more of the above will they have to build and at what cost?’

    No idea but it would/will be huge. And as mentioned there’s still all the diesel consumption to deal with if electric-only is the policy.

  20. Petrossa says:

    the only viable EV is a diesel-electric one for the next 50 years at least. What an EV needs is the ‘magical selfcontained micro powerplant’. As in direct matter/energy conversion unit. Batteries are just not feasible given the steadily growing transportation need now that the other 80% of the world gets to rich enough to own one.
    China & India together have about a third of consumers. As in about 15 times the US market for transport.
    So if we do a very simplistic calculation: 15 times 140 billion equals to unattainable storage capacity.

  21. oldbrew says:

    Report: ‘Chinese firms accelerate in race toward driverless future’

    “If you have someone jumping out in front of an autonomous car, does the car have to choose between killing that person, or swerving and crashing and killing the passenger?” asked Robin Zhu, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

    “If your car could choose to kill you, would you get in it?”
    http://phys.org/news/2016-04-chinese-firms-driverless-future.html

  22. roger says:

    Are we there yet?

  23. Oldmank says:

    From oldbrew : “Somebody pulled the plug on the French compressed air car.”

    I think that was a joke; could never see any advantage. Compression is a cycle with efficiency less than one. Expansion in an air motor is similar. The combined would have an efficiency of a fraction multiplied by a fraction.

  24. oldbrew says:

    A compressed air system weighs (and costs) a lot less than batteries, and doesn’t use limited resources like lithium. So it’s more affordable, and more efficient due to dragging less weight around.

    Range is probably small though.

  25. tallbloke says:

    Are earplugs issued to drivers and bystanders with each compressed air car?🙂

  26. oldbrew says:

    ’70-80% of all hearing loss within the manufacturing industry is caused by compressed air’
    http://www.silvent.com/en-uk/competences/blowing-with-compressed-air/

    This one sounds a bit rough.

  27. Anoneumouse says:

    These self drive vehicles are great if you are budding car bomber.

    wacky akbar

    http://saxontimes.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=google+car

  28. oldbrew says:

    Anoneumouse – you may have a point there.

  29. Bloke down the pub says:

    Oldmank says:
    May 1, 2016 at 9:37 am

    On a lot of journeys, most of the fuel is burned while sat in traffic jams or inching along bumper to bumper. There are no such problems for a flying car, so on a lot of journeys fuel consumption need not be excessive.

  30. pochas94 says:

    “On a lot of journeys, most of the fuel is burned while sat in traffic jams or inching along bumper to bumper.”

    Not with an electric car. Granted, in winter you have to drain the battery to keep warm.

  31. Oldmank says:

    @ Bloke down the pub: When pushing forward against a medium that also moves, be it air for aircraft or water for boats, more energy is spent into the medium as for pushing your vehicle forward. Newton’s third law.

    Hybrid elect/prime mover (200 to 500 cc — not 2ltr) working at maximum efficiency to charge intermittently is the better solution. pochas94, then use the exhaust for heating as you charge. For heating Skoda had something like that once.

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