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Elm Creek Smith
Elm Creek Smith
February 23, 2014 1:57 am

How about a bus load of politicians?

February 23, 2014 2:22 am

ECS, then the headlines would be something like “Driverless vehicles collide”.

February 23, 2014 5:21 am

I would be less leery if I knew more about the vehicle kit which must include some serious servo automation within the driver control loop.

BWASK is first and foremost (presently) a ‘driver safety enhancement’ with driver augmentation (one driver, many trucks, the ability to assume long-duration ‘cruise control’ autopiloting) and only last as a totally autonomous system.

If you could design a vehicle which was, from the outset compatible with UGV packages as something the /driver/ control system plugged into, I think costs and reliability would be much improved, simply because the interface would be truly universal in it’s technology level standard.

As is, the sensor package is pretty much common but the overall mechanics and synthetic traffic nav laws are not and cannot be so, due to different vehicle performance and drive train/steering classifications.

The video seems to to be empty-world level which essentially doesn’t mimic the kinds of conditions you would find in Iraq where cars are so dense that they obscure and even expand past lane marking and counter-directional flow is common. Nor of say Russia where the art of car-hitting as insurance fraud is so out of control as to require cameras to be mounted on dash boards to protect the drivers.

I would expect that theft or blinding of sensors to render vehicles inoperable would also be a major issue with the intent to steal as much as attack.

How far this will get depends on how far Big Track continues to stuff CS/CSS missions into the Reserves and how much they fight back (warriors will be warriors) on a cost-driven basis during sequestration cuts.

From the civilian perspective, at least here in the U.S., things are much more hopeful. We spend the better part of 5 grande on insurance, registration and gas, yearly. All for vehicles which rest either in a work parking lot or a home garage for most of their operational lives (literally 80-90% of the day).

Revision this system as ‘everyone hates the weirdos on the MT’, along the lines of buying into a subdivision (housing development) ownership of ONE, multicar garage stack, 3-4 stories tall, occupying 4 adjacent lots at the corner of the housing development. A company similar to Hertz Rentacar leases a fleet of 50 vehicles to you and sends a car ’round to your door, every morning, to drive you and 1-3 others to a proximally (1-3nm) shared destination work place.

From that point on, 40 of the cars are out on the street, providing point to point transport at .50-1.50 a ride (current taxi fairs in Denver are between 15-25 dollars, one way), to ordinary folks. While 10 return to the garage to provide a baseline emergency, grocery, soccer practice transport option for housewives.

And then you reverse the process again, in a graduated series of ‘commute hours’ (3-4-5 o’clock) which assign specific highways to specific directional traffic flow with vehicles proceeding at 60-70mph, 10-20 inches from each other, in slipstream, to get everyone home. One third the traffic from carpooling, one third the traffic from exlusive, shifted, use of major roadway networks. And overlapping traffic safety assurance from a system of
RFID chips in the roadaway reflectors, major street signs and local ‘taxi stops’ nearest to destination X.

Simply follow the mathematical series prefixes, much like we use X-hundred street number assignments. It’s largely invulnerable to hacking because the networks are all local (hack one section and the cars return to normal as soon as they leave a given area) and it obviates the need to design intelligent optics systems which recognize stopsigns etc.

Because you are making monthly or yearly payments, much like you would a covenant maintenance fee and all those payments are of an economy of scale nature; your own total, yearly, automotive costs are also thirded. Because these are hybrid or even all-electric vehicles which are charged using a large, helical, wind turbine built into the side of the garage.

More importantly, in a world where 250,000,000 cars constitute their own ‘population’ and Chinese automotive use is about to double that number, you are providing a common relief of ownership fees to both people whose middle class income is drooping as industrial jobs are lost and to those who are otherwise totally unable to afford or park an automobile.

Within a much reduced total fleet size that works twice as efficiently to defeat congestion on existing roadway infrastructure without further decay as recap/expansion fees.

Obviously, insurance costs associated with drunken driving and inexperienced drivers would also greatly decline.

Given the huge threat from IED and Ambush Teams as well as the general mission winddown in SWA, I don’t see the utility in long-haul trucking to be as great, simply because most material is efficiently delivered by rail and short-haul in The West.

But if you could design a standardized chassis built around addition of variable sport/utility/family model upper bodies and make it robotic from the outset so that mechanical interlinkage (as failure point) servo controls could largely be rendered unnecessary, you could easily make billions using this system, particularly for smaller, rural, communities where group lease is about the only option available to provide affordable mobility.

February 23, 2014 6:30 am

Who is going to eat all the spare pies ?!

February 23, 2014 8:48 am

From one perspective I am much more relaxed about these than about UCAV – their purpose is to support fighting men (women), not to actively and autonomously select people to kill.

But they have their issues – the sensors are high mounted and obvious – the vehicle could be rendered useless with a well-aimed paintball. It carries no self-defence weapon (good!!) but this means miscreants could board the truck at will and either disable the vehicle with a strip of gaffa tape or hitch a lift to a surprise attack at the delivery destination. On the whole, I’d see these as more rear echelon stuff than forward unit suppliers.

What I do think will happen though is that the technology will spread onto manned trucks/vehicles where they might cover for driver error, driver drowsiness, or driver distraction (for example the driver needing to use the roof hatch to defend truck & self with personal weapon). So as an aid to conventionally driven vehicles I think there is good utility. As a fully unmanned system I think its flawed.

Oh and I also think it would be very easy to detect all the sensor beams (laser or radar) used by the truck guidance system, so not stealthy at all.

Think Defence
February 23, 2014 11:01 am
Reply to  WiseApe

Sorry Wiseape, my fault

Although I did like the whole brevity vibe!

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 24, 2014 6:25 pm

I remember the first time I was to drive into Bosnia, I was told that when passing through towns, whenever you have to stop at a junction, check the back of the truck because there’ll be a 10-13 year-old kid in the back throwing stuff to his mates.

And waddayaknow, we’re picking up little brats in the first town we come to. Constantly sticking my head out the hatch, angrily shouting “faaaacough!” every time we stop.

Seems a great system for delivering empty trucks.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
February 24, 2014 8:35 pm

@ WiseApe,

Me, scrap the RAF Regiment? Perish the thought. I just don’t want them falsely claiming to be infantrymen or even somehow equivalent to proper soldiers.

Either that, or once Bastion closes, permanently deployed (all Squadrons) to the FI, which is after all the only airfield we have that needs guarding and which the MoD judges is not within their competence to do. I take issue with the MoD on that: the RAF Regiment are perfectly capable of guarding it, but not with deterring Carlos Fandango from having a crack at the islands, which is why proper infantry are still needed. They can get on with stagging on gate guarding and driving the odd land rover around the perimeter, and leave anything where a brain is required to the professionals.

It’s a toss up between which is more likely to be effective: MS software or an RAF Regiment patrol. The barrier is set very low on that, IMO.


Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 2, 2014 8:50 am

Why am I reminded of the automated factory? There is only one man and a dog in the factory. The man is there to feed the dog and the dog is there to stop the man touching anything.

I have missed M&S, not that I understand his posts but I like the feeling that wafts over as I try to read them.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
March 2, 2014 9:02 am

In fairness to M&S some London boroughs now make it a condition of planing that developers undertake to have a non-car ownership condition in the lease and to fund car club bays on the highway. The cars are not yet driverless but the social/economic side is as M&S suggests.

For those who don’t know, whilst foreign countries have corruption and backhanders we have Section 106 agreements. These are an entirely legal means of oiling the wheels of the planning system- you scratch my back and I’ll……. As TD would say “Nothing to see, move along there”