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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Driverless Cars - Another New Technology Our Political class haven't Heard Of

  This is an example of mood changing. William Connolley, whom I have mentioned before as as a warming alarmist has a post comparing driverless cars and high speed trains (like the £33 bn one we are going to complete some time in the 2030s).

    He likes the cars.

where does the obsession with HSR come from? ... they aren’t energy efficient – you might as well fly. They make great macho infrastructure projects for pols to posture with, and I’m sure there are wonderful discrete kick-backs in all that concrete pouring. And they’re great for making promises of regeneration of distant areas that can’t be falsified until too late. Aside: I was always disappointed that the channel tunnel went down the obsession-with-speed thing, when what I wanted them to do was run sleeper services to the continent so I didn’t have to change in Paris. Ah well.

  To which I commented   "I would have been far to polite to accuse politicians of taking kickbacks but am not so polite as to disagree.

Here in Britain our government is promising to have built such a railway for $52bn completed about 4 Parliaments from now.

I have always found it non-credible that we can do automated cars but not automated single carriage rail units everywhere. I assume it is because rail is an inherently centralised system and thus discouragesd innovation, rather than it being particularly difficult to programme the limited options a train has (basically stop and go).

You maybe interested to know that the initial design of Google’s driverless cars came from DARPA who put up a $3 million X-Prize and said they couldn’t have got more from $100m in cnventional funding. Confirms my opinion that such prizes would allow for a step change in the rate of innovation – if it were wanted."

Elsewhere we get

I don't really need any convincing on this front. I think that genuine self-driving cars will be available within a decade and that they'll be big game changers. .

  This is a discussion that hasn't started here, at least in political circles. I agreed that the HST was going to be a white elephant but if we are going to have driverless cars 15 years before the HST is finished it will be even more of a white elephant than I thought.

   I have, for a long time, been pushing driverless trains as a technology we could easily do but it may be about to be gone before it started because the computer technology has advanced so far that driverless cars, requiring much more computer capacity because so many more decisions are needed, are virtually equally competitive.

   And in support of the disgraceful accusation of somebody getting kickbacks for HST I put this on Roger Helmer's.

   "the Norwegians have been cutting tunnels at £4 million per km. that would mean a dualled tunnel from London to Sotland (saving the office block & the countryside) for £5 billion."

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I just happened to notice the L-Prize while checking up on LED lighting efficiencies.
Several prizes in an ongoing competition - first prize already won.
I'm sure you'll be interested in another example ox x-prizes in operation - in America.
And a government funded prize at that.

Thanks Paul. I have bookmarked that and will doubtless make use of it some time.
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