Last night a woman was struck by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona


Back to reality.


Wonder why they went out of business…because systems exactly like that are in use today at Airports and even places like Disney World. In fact when I use to work for Digital Equipment Co about 30 years ago - these systems were in place then and using PDP-8 computers and DEC software to control them. They’ve been in place for over 30 years and the industry is continuing to grow.


Because the Twin Cities isn’t ready for mass transit on that scale. It’s a bloody fight to the death just to get light rail going here – we were assured that no one would ride it, and now that 2 lines have been built and they’ve blown far past the most optimistic ridership numbers, the opposition simply lies and tells us no one is riding it anyway, despite hard evidence to the contrary.

Then they say it’s not useful because you can’t get everywhere on it, which is obvious because it hasn’t been finished yet, and every time they try to add a branch the opposition comes crawling out of the woodwork to claim it will be noisy (it’s not), lower property values (the exact opposite has happened on the lines that have been constructed), it won’t be used (just like the wildly popular current lines are “unused”), etc etc.

Lump that into the weird attitude that is being slowly overcome that only poor people ride mass transit and you have a recipe for failure when it comes to introducing more modes.

And if that weren’t enough, they also came up with the dumbest possible way to fund mass transit here. Funding levels are based on a tax applied to new car purchases. So in other words, the more people stop buying new cars so that they can save money and ride the bus instead, the less money transit gets.

It’s a system that was intentionally set up to fail even with traditional buses and trains, and now some company thinks they’ll succeed with weird pod things? Not likely.


It depends on a lot of things . . .

For example . . .

Which city are we talking about?

What KIND of mass transit?


That whole comment was referring to the Twin Cities. I know the attitudes are different in other metro areas.


I dunno. You may be a little biased in your view of why mass transit doesn’t go over too well in the great twin cities. When I worked in Minneapolis it would take me one hour to drive the 60 miles to work. Some of the folks that lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area took the bus and their one way commute time was from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Plus time standing in a cold or wet bus stop. Plus stop go stop go. One morning one girl came in laughing and a little red faced that she had encountered a guy masturbating on the bus. These were not poor people but gee whiz, you had to really want to ride the bus to put yourself through that.

Still the Urban Studies folks find all kinds of ways to put lipstick on a pig with subsidized rates, bus lanes on the shoulders, drivers with safety shields to protect from being robbed, new bus shelters, parking ramps that are half empty, and on and on. And @shadowfax is not mentioning the increased crime when the train line opened from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America. And then there is that great new line between Minneapolis and St. Paul that made a mess out of a perfectly good east/west route between the cities. You gotta really be careful and listen for those little ding dong bells or you’ll get run over-just about one a month. But yeah, its those politicians again or people that live in the area that just don’t get how great a thing it is.

Onto Minneapolis and bike lanes downtown when its 20 below zero out and a foot of snow. Cars are bad and gotta go. Especially those internal combustion ones with (gasp) real drivers. I never would have guessed that this is CAR TALK, not bus talk or urban planning talk. Geez, I’ve got to go clean the garage before spring.


I’m going to agree completely with you on this one. Transit planning here sucks and the lines aren’t policed well enough, so bad behavior happens, and it takes a long time to get somewhere because the routes are generally stupid. I do not feel that Metro Transit does a good job planning routes, or actually running the routes, at least on buses. And I’ve seen the same bad behavior you’re referencing from the train on buses. Actually I see it far more often on buses.

That bad things happen (and it’s getting better because they’re doing what they should have done in the first place and actually putting cops on the train to do more than check for a ticket receipt) does not mean that light rail is a bad idea or that it can’t work - having ridden both it and buses extensively, I feel it’s the only part of MetTransit’s network that works well from a people-moving perspective.

Because that was crime on the trains and at the stations because Met Transit was dumb and didn’t have cops doing regular patrols of those areas. Stop patrolling Nicollet 10 blocks away from the tracks and you’ll get the same result. That’s an indictment of the people in charge, not the train.

I felt it should be a subway like every other dense city has. So, for the record, did the light rail planners - but they knew they’d never get the increased cost approved by a legislature full of people who don’t understand why adding 30 more lanes to I-94 wouldn’t work, and also people from outstate who always eagerly have their hand out for funding from the metro area, and then balk when it comes time to approve a project that they, personally, will not use.

But that is bull. Yes, you have to pay attention to the world around you, but the trains are very easy to see, and there’s lots of warning when they’re coming, including loud horns used when people are being stupid near the tracks.

After you cross the tracks you have to pay attention crossing the street too. Step in front of a delivery truck and you’ll have the same result as stepping in front of the train. Shall I take this to mean you advocate banning vehicles in general in the metro area? :wink:

As noted above, I don’t argue that there are issues with placement of the tracks or administration of the transit system, but look at the areas the tracks run through. University used to look like a demilitarized zone. Now all sorts of new businesses and apartment buildings are cropping up. Same story on 55 south of Minneapolis where the train rolls through. Businesses are popping up all around the light rail stations.

In fairness, some lunatics here put studded tires on their bikes and still ride in January. I don’t get it either.

There are places where cars are less ideal than mass transit. Down town is a great example. If you shut down Met Transit and dumped everyone who takes the train or a bus to work into individual cars you’d get nothing but gridlock, and I suspect you know it. As a car driver it’s really nice that I can get from Blaine to Bloomington without having to pack a suitcase, and it’s certainly not because they planned the roads well. Those buses and trains are taking cars off the road and making life easier for the rest of us.


I dunno, we both have our theories based on our experiences but when the bus drivers went on strike, instead of gridlock on the highway, it was clear sailing. Yeah sure some said it was because people were carpooling more, etc, but without those buses slowing traffic down, it was really smooth driving. Sort of like it was back in the 70’s before all the large scale office construction got going downtown. So in my narrow conspiratorial mind, I start to ask who was really making money and benefiting on the downtown development?


Update on the recent Tesla self-driving-mode crash. Tesla is saying the driver didn’t have his hands on the steering wheel – which Tesla recommends in self driving mode – and that’s what caused the crash. But if the car knew the driver’s hands weren’t on the steering wheel, should the car have slowed down and stopped by itself?


As a generally fairly enthusiastic Tesla fan, I’ve always been uncomfortable with their “autopilot.” That’s what they call it. An auto pilot.

It’s not. It’s the functional equivalent of asking your 7 year old to hold the wheel while you put eyedrops in - it’s not a good driver and it’s certainly not meant to, or capable of, driving all by itself.

Musk vastly overreached when he claimed it was an autopilot, and I suspect that will come back to bite him in court. “If he was supposed to keep driving himself, why the hell did you call it an autopilot?”


I firmly believe the science and engineering behind autonomous vehicles is sound. The problem (as usual) is management. They are rushing it. R&D is going to take time and money. Management and bean counters step in and try to maximize profits by cutting corners. I still think we’re 10+ years away from full-out deployment.


According to CNN Money, they think Musk may be getting ready to bail and is spending more time with his other endeavors than the cars now. People dumping money into the car factory are starting to question why. There comes a point when you just have to make money regardless of the glitz in order to stay in business.


The mayor of Mt View California (home to Google and several other self driving car companies) apparently isn’t very optimistic about the current deployment offerings either …

"Mayor Lenny Siegel said he expects a bit of a public wake-up call to come soon, as more unoccupied autonomous vehicles are spotted driving around town. The technology is hardly flawless, he said. He observes the limitations first-hand every time a Waymo car turns onto his street in Old Mountain View. His street is apparently too narrow for the autopilot systems to navigate, and he said he has watched as the vehicles stall in the middle of the street for no apparent reason.

In an interview with the Voice, Siegel listed off the numerous questions he has about this new phase of autonomous vehicle testing. Can these vehicles safely maneuver around construction zones, pedestrians or bicyclists? How many self-driving vehicles can one remote employee track simultaneously? How will these vehicles change traffic patterns for driving and parking? "


It seems the appointed self driving car regulators at the California DMV are very business friendly.

"Q: Why don’t the regulations specify certain benchmarks for the cars to meet?

Soriano: Manufacturers need freedom to develop systems the way they want. If you set up such a rigid regime, then you [the Calif DMV official] are responsible for it."

I can certainly see why nobody at the Calif DMV wants to be held responsible for any adverse outcomes.


Q: Another controversy is about allowing carmakers to attest that their vehicles are safe, rather than having independent third-party verification.

Soriano: The self-certification model currently exists within the U.S. Every single vehicle sold in our country has to be certified by the manufacturer that it meets all federal motor vehicle safety standards at the time of sale. As we developed the regulations, we looked at a number of different tools, including a third-party certification. But the issues with that make it very difficult to implement.

Soublet: We put out draft regulations with a third-party verification model, and got comments from manufacturers and consumer advocates. The major stumbling block was: What is the pass/fail criteria? We don’t have testing labs or the capacity to set up criteria that every third party would use.

This astounds me. I have been involved in the design and development of products for more than 40 years. Most of them need to be INDEPENDENTLY verified for safety and efficacy prior to marketing them for sale (e.g. UL, CSA, CE, TUV etc). We pay HUGE fees to have third party testing verify the product meets any and all applicable standards and that ongoing production continues to meet them. We have the ability to do much of the testing in house and sometimes the verification process involves the third party overseeing the testing. We also must submit to random factory inspections for compliance. At no time can we just self-certify. This would be unbelievable if a car manufacturer was not held to this same standard. I must be missing something…I hope…


There are standards by SAE and IEEE for autonomous vehicles. These are private organizations and each state can adopt or not. It’s only used as a guidance.