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Hibai Unzueta
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Interesting conversation. Thank you all. Although the evolution metaphor is useful to measure the difficulties of implementing automated cars, commenter Lee has pointed a credible gradual evolution scenario, where cars incorporate the automation before they are left to do all the driving. Therefore we will probably start to see them among us in the future. But the real question here is: what benefits will this automation really provide? And, would that produce anything capable of replacing transit? My opinion is no: Although we already have automated trains and the Google Car driving around, the complexity they handle does not match the promised compact circulation scenario. And if they will not be able in the foreseeable future to provide a more compact circulation, a better use of the available street space, I have to ask: What is then -- apart from improved safety or less operating costs in the case of taxis -- the big advantage of these vehicles? And the answer, although it might not seem obvious due to our high ideological bias is that, they are private! What is the most important part of PRT? Obviously the P part in it! Don't take me wrong: I do not by any means advocate for the mass use of private means and I envision transportation as something shared both by geometrical reasons and social ones. But if I am to tell why the automated car future is so promising for so many people, the main reason I can think of is that it is still a private enviroment. Well organised, high frequency transit is like a conveyor belt or a moving street, to picture it more appealingly. The conveyor belts are placed to match the common denominator of the movement of hundreds of people. And it is that way that they can achieve efficient energy and street space use. But private vehicles, either automatic or manned, either shared or not shared, always hit the limitation in efficiency of not being part of any 'conveyor belt' -- which is why they can provide point to point transportation. That being said, automation may come to private vehicles, but geometry will foreseeable prevent that from being a revolution in the way we move. We will still need automated or manned public transit based 'conveyor belts'.
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Although I agree with your editor, that was a good summary of many of the points you cover in the book. Happy holidays Mr Walker and all the readers in the weblog!
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Dec 26, 2012