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Self driving cars are coming: re-design a transport vehicle!

Extrapolating the idea of self driving cars: the reason for a cockpit has become obsolete, so you can have new kinds of cars: offices driving you from meeting to meeting, or dinner-cars that will make a scenic tour... or a sleep-car that brings you to your further destination.
And no need for Cab drivers anymore.

What are your ideas of how these cars can look like?

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    Nov 30 2013: I would like one that is the about ten feet long and has circulating water in it so I can swim laps on the way to work so that by the time I get there I am clean, revitalized and exercised while listening to music or learning something new on my contact lens will have access to the internet except it won't be called the Internet anymore, it will be called Cop (Communication Of People). When I sign off, I will just say "Cop Out". Did I mention it would be solar powered with batteries strong enough to last all night so it could travel forever at no cost. It has no wheels but will hover and be submersible. Since it will look like a giant hot dog I will park it at the local Wienerschnitzel so it will be blend in with all the other hot dog vehicles or park it along side the road with a sign saying "Wienerschnitzel only two light years away" that way people will leave it alone thinking it is just a billboard.
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    Dec 3 2013: A bit off-topic but...

    I'd really like to create (or see) the first cab company that uses self driving, solar paneled cars..

    Oh and Christophe, maybe you could add a related Talk to the description (Sebastian Thrun's) so that those who don't care to google it can watch a Talk… Just a friendly suggestion for possible improvement.
  • Dec 3 2013: Given that there were 314 million accidents and 34 K deaths, this technology, similar to the needs for train and plane automation, has a major need and it will come.

    For some ideas, suggest you go back into the late 50's and 60's when the idea of a self driven vehicle became popular idea. Some of the ones I liked were:

    1. Chairs that rotated so you could talk or play games
    2. Pop up table with the ability to heat food with cold drinks and cold food.
    3. Chairs that convert to beds
    4. Link to an engine pulling multiple cars for long trips across country without stopping for fuel, you drop off at speed into the next lane, the engine does not stop.
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      Dec 3 2013: You have described Amtrac !
      • Dec 3 2013: yes and no, no stops - you pull out into another lane and drive off to your local desitnation and it does not run on tracks but on roads.
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    Dec 2 2013: Self driving cars may be coming, but I see the Segway again. I do not think this technology will prove useful.
    My rational. I drive my car, I am in control. I have a strong sense of preservation. I ride with others: cabs, ships and aircraft. People are in control, I have to presume they have a strong sense of self preservation.
    Machine operated vehicles.... no person is in control. No sense of self preservation. Maybe in the distant future, we can develop machines with a sense of self preservation, but then the machines may turn on people as they see the threat people are to machines....
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      Dec 3 2013: It will most likely prove useful, maybe not to you directly, but certainly indirectly.

      And if they were driving the streets right now over here I'd take that to work and watch Talks or sleep for the commute…

      But I get it, it's not everyone's cup of tea. and it doesn't need to be… just like cars weren't compared to horses once upon a time… "Trust a machine to get me from A to B you say, ptshh, my horse knows where home is and it won't run off a cliff as a machine could"
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        Dec 3 2013: Jimmy, if you are drunk, your horse will get you home.

        Can't say that about cars... even self guided ones. You still have to get in or on and get the key in the switch... never saw a horse with a switch.
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          Dec 6 2013: You CAN say that about SELF DRIVING cars! That's exactly what they do! No key needed Mike, there's a thing called technology now that makes such things obsolete. And yes, you still need to crawl into the car, but that should be easier then jumping on the horse or getting on the wagon.
          Plus, horses get spooked, cars don't.

          Please watch the related Talk!
  • Dec 2 2013: One additional design feature should be the size of the car contains only 2 or 3 passenger capacity, and a large family should have 2 or more such cars, and the cars could be hooked up when the whole family goes on a long (or short) trip. In this way, the cars could be used by two or more family members on separate purposes, and be hooked up only when they go somewhere together. This is for the purpose of energy conservation as well as convenience of the different use of various family members. Of course, the hooked-up cars should be designed to be functioned almost as a single car, but using only one of the engines/batteries.
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    Dec 1 2013: What I've come up with now is maybe when the car is stolen one day, you can call it back by using your super secret password or preset programs. And the space of the driver's seat could be designed to be a baby cradle or a foldable pet bed etc. to enjoy more fun in your car with your family.
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    Nov 30 2013: I guess the front seats will be turned round 180 degrees to face the back seats, with maybe a small table in the middle.
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    Dec 6 2013: Jimmy,
    you are too quick to give up a fine horse for technology. Be careful of technology... My old professor remarked that one day man will build robots to work for man and then man will build robots to make other robots and then the robots will find that they don't need man.

    Watch the movie "Wallie"
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      Dec 6 2013: I'll use the horse when/if tech breaks down. Be careful of horses Mike, they're unreliable.
      I've watched Wallie... Do you feel the need to be needed by our creations?
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        Dec 7 2013: I am not sure about the reliability, Jimmy, When I was a kid, I knew of a horse that was going strong at 27. My car is now 10 and is sure beginning to show it's age. Two months ago, it set me back $700 for repairs. $700 will buy a lot of hay.

        No, I am afraid that our creations may come to feel they don't need us.
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    Dec 6 2013: But Jimmy, I've looked through the telescope of automated autos and for all that I saw, I am not convinced the technology is ready for prime time. Maybe this is a lab experiment that holds future promise.... I have seen such things in sci-fi movies...
    I am just not ready to share the roads with one tomorrow....
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    Dec 4 2013: OK, our car of tomorrow will be guided by inertial navigation.... So let's see, it still requires gps, and then there is motion sensors and gyroscopes and a number of other toys to make it work... I think a nuclear sub would be big enough to handle all the mechanics... so our self propelled auto is a semi tractor trailer? No thanks, I'll drive my own car.
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      Dec 6 2013: Watch the related Talk!!!!!

      You're acting like the church did against Galileo Galilei. Not needing to look through that telescope because you already know that there's nothing to see...
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    Dec 3 2013: You can load you car on amtrac and drive off at a stop to your local destination.

    Amtrac runs on rails which needs less guidance than road traffic and requires less technical interface

    Sorry, I just don't see the additional benefits of self propelled autos.
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      Dec 4 2013: You seem to be really "anti"-everything and off topic latley Mike...
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        Dec 4 2013: Sorry Jimmy,
        I have been "anti" everything lately... but in my defense, why does everyone come up with these lofty ideas that I don't see well thought out. Like why is pot illegal? OK, but there are some snakes in that grass (pardon the pun)
        Or automated cars.... I should put my life in the hands of not one machine as an aircraft or train or ship, but hundreds going down roadways... and all I see is hundreds of machines, everyone of them with my name on their sides with a line through it....
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          Dec 6 2013: Mike,

          Their only lofty to you... You're obviously very conservative and that's okay (even though I don't share those ideals, and I think that they're hurting mankind...).

          BUT!

          On the question "Why is marijuana illegal" You come in and talk about your opinions on cannabis, never touching the topic of it's legality more then on the surface, which is to say that you think that it should be illegal because it's an intoxicant.

          And you're doing the same thing here, Christophe wanted people to come up with ideas for new designs for self driving cars since we don't need to make them anything like we've done before when all this new tech goes in.

          Have you got any of those or are you being disruptive on purpose, trying to derail conversations from their original intent?

          Please Mike, start new conversations with your concerns and I'll gladly come in and discuss those with you, but you've been raising your issues in the wrong places, and you've been doing it a lot.
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        Dec 6 2013: Jimmy, Conservative, maybe... pragmatic, yes.

        Pot... abuse of pot is intoxicating and that is why I think it was made illegal in many places.
        Many jurisdictions find that intoxicating substances hold danger to the public. If you use pot in the privacy of your home, I know not that you use pot and it is none of my business. You come out in public, stoned out of your mind .... that would make me sad, knowing the toxic effects on your brain and damages done.

        As far as the self-propelled car... you are correct? the question was what would it look like?
        I am a retired civil engineer, but I have done some design and I could have presented some ideas for compartmentalizing various comforts for riders in a self propelled vehicle...
        but to do that I would have needed some criteria.... limiting size, weight, acceleration, to name a few. But I got lost in the fog of my imagination of sleeping people speeding down a highway in a vehicle controlled by today's technology... Even if this "car" was fully capable sensing highway problems, I see no good outcome of such a vehicle cut off by a 20 meter freight truck on a narrow highway aside a mountain.
        Maybe, I was answering the questions that should have been asked before this one...
    • Dec 4 2013: Mike,
      It's spelled "Amtrak".
      Commercial rail transit can only go where the rails are, and the rails don't go to your house.
      And most accidents occur close to home, because that's where people become complacent.
      And that's the main benefit of autonomous cars: Safety.
      Robotic cars can be more perceptive and have better reflexes than any human.
      And that will go a long way towards reducing the 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries from traffic accidents in the world each year.
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        Dec 4 2013: Sorry, my spell check is dysfunctional.... or I didn't know how to spell it.... pick one.

        We are not really talking about robotic cars, are we? Aren't we really looking at a computerized unit with simplistic sensors and GPS? GPS works in far west Texas... open spaces, but lose me on the multi-stacked over passes in downtown San Antonio or Austin.
        • Dec 4 2013: Yes, I am talking about robotic cars, and I'm pretty sure that's what everyone else is talking about, too.
          Whatever you're talking about would not get past the alphabet soup of government bureaucracies that we have in our big dysfunctional country.
          A self driving car MUST be able to navigate itself along it's chosen route without solely relying on GPS. And that's totally doable. It's called "Inertial Navigation". It's how the USS Nautilus sailed under the North Pole in 1958. These days, the same technology is available in smartphones. And yes, there's an app for that.
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        Dec 4 2013: OK, our car of tomorrow will be guided by inertial navigation.... So let's see, it still requires gps, and then there is motion sensors and gyroscopes and a number of other toys to make it work... I think a nuclear sub would be big enough to handle all the mechanics... so our self propelled auto is a semi tractor trailer to haul around that cell phone? No thanks, I'll drive my own car.
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    Dec 3 2013: I've got another idea about the self driving cars, I think they can deliver mails in the rural or dangerous places( go through some forest with bears or other carnivores) to help people.
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    Dec 2 2013: Personally i think this is going to suit the person who cannot disconnect or will not. Zombies.. Humans are funny creatures of collective habit. Early morning traffic has changed in my country since the advent of a more covered telecommunications network, people now start to organize themselves in their cars while driving rather than wait til they get to work hence the early morning weaver and the make up applicator. I have seen soccer moms with a coffee in one hand, the phone in the other, 4 kids in the back while driving 15 k's over the limit in a school zone.

    I don't think it's a case of getting more things done but one of false planning. " I'll do it in the car ". Habit. People choose to do it in their vehicles as opposed to do it before they jump in the car.
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    Dec 2 2013: But I like driving. I see a dark future where humans are only allowed to drive on special closed circuits as we are too unreliable to be allowed on public roads. Will anyone be interested in car racing when they start using self driving cars?
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      Dec 2 2013: Hi,I don't think people can't have car races that time. Just like we have modern transportations but we still can have horserace nowdays. Definitely the taxi industry will change a lot, I think.
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    Dec 1 2013: Drivers, jobs, ... Everything is obsolete, eventually.
    I'm taking a shortcut, and something of a bet, living as a lazy bastard browsing people, stuff and facts between meals.
  • Nov 30 2013: At first, these self-driving cars will look unchanged for the simple reason that people would want a manual backup.
    Once we learn to trust them more, its a fairly simple matter of ripping out all the controls and replacing them with a much smaller computer. No major redesign required, other than perhaps making fewer engineering compromises for driver visibility and the lack of controls.

    There's actually a running gag in the aeronautics industry, claiming that in the future, planes will pilot themselves, and all the crew you'd need is a man and a dog. The man's job is to feed the dog, and the dog's job is to bite the man should he try to touch anything.
    No major redesign required. Except maybe a kennel at the airport.
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      Nov 30 2013: Thanks Nadav.

      I think that is a realistic perspective...

      Though I imagine the possibilities and new designs that open up are quite big, don't you think?
      • Nov 30 2013: Closest I can think to something that'll require redesigning is motorcycles for delivering things (or even people). In that case, its less of a redesign, and more along the lines of starting from scratch, as there will be practically nothing worth salvaging from the old version's blue print--the engineering requirements are too different.

        As for anything bigger, the change won't be nearly as drastic.
        A car's driver isn't such a crippling design compromise. In your average family car, the driver and controls both don't account for as much as 10% of the weight--significant in an aircraft, less so in a land vehicle. The percentages only move down when you look at bigger vehicles, like trucks.
        Not to mention that in those occasions when the driver simply becomes a passenger, the savings are even smaller,

        There are benefits to be sure, but nothing that calls for any major redesign. Sometimes, the intelligence/automation controlling a design is more important for performance than the design itself.
      • Dec 1 2013: My only concern Nice trip then I look out Why am I in a lake and my vehicle is simking?