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Study: fully self-driving cars could result in fewer cars, but more miles driven per car

Autonomous vehicles (completely self-driving, level 4) may reduce the number of vehicles a family needs, but may lead to an increase in total miles driven per vehicle, according to a new analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak examined the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data set, which contains detailed information about each trip made by a person within a selected household, including the exact start and stop times of each trip. They found a general lack of “trip overlap” between drivers within a majority of households based on vehicle sharing. In other words, families rarely use more than one vehicle at a time.

The study is based on sharing of completely self-driving vehicles that employ a “return-to-home” mode, acting as a form of shared family or household vehicle.

To illustrate the self-driving vehicle sharing concept, consider the following example. A household has two drivers, A and B. Driver A requires a vehicle for commuting to work by 8:00 a.m. and home again at 5:00 p.m. Driver B normally runs errands during the day while driver A is at work, returning home after each errand. The level 4 self-driving vehicle “return-to-home” mode would involve the vehicle performing the following basic actions:

  1. Drop driver A off at work by 8:00 a.m.
  2. Return home to driver B for an errand from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  3. Take driver B on a second errand from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  4. Return to work location of driver A by 5:00 p.m. for commute home.
—Schoettle and Sivak

In the most extreme scenario, self-driving vehicles could cut average ownership rates of vehicles by 43%—from an average of 2.1 vehicles to 1.2 vehicles per household, the researchers say.

However, the shift could result in a 75% increase in individual vehicle usage—from 11,661 to 20,406 annual miles per vehicle (this increase in mileage does not include additional miles that would be generated during each return-to-home trip).

Schoettle and Sivak found that, on an average day, nearly 84% of households had no trips that overlapped or conflicted. Just under 15% of households had two drivers and less than 2% had three drivers with overlapping trips that created a conflict.

The researchers say their results represent strictly an upper-bound approximation of the maximum possible effects of self-driving vehicles on reductions in household vehicle ownership, given several unknowns: sufficient gaps between trips, acceptance and adoption of autonomous vehicles and possible vehicle-sharing strategies within households.

In the hypothetical scenario outlined in this analysis, the potential reduction in vehicle ownership per household would include a correspondingly large increase in vehicle usage, consequently increasing wear-and-tear and required maintenance frequency, while reducing the average vehicle life span (in total years on the road). Given the current average on-road vehicle age of 11.4 years and the assumption that the underlying scrappage rate are largely functions of overall wear-and- tear and total mileage, then a 75% increase in annual mileage per vehicle could reduce this average on-road age to approximately 6.5 years.

… One possible silver lining to decreased vehicle life span (in years) involves the more rapid introduction of new technology into the on-road fleet, and the consequent benefits for road safety. In the hypothetical scenario we describe in this analysis, with an average turnover rate that is 75% faster for these vehicles, the rate at which new self- driving technology would be replaced or updated in the on-road fleet would nearly double (versus current average vehicle age and annual usage rates).Schoettle and Sivak

Resources

  • Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak (2015) “Potential Impact of Self-Driving Vehicles on Household Vehicle Demand and Usage” UMTRI-2015-3

Comments

Account Deleted

With fully autonomous cars taxi driving becomes far less costly per mile driven than private car ownership. The argument is given below for those who need to see exactly why. Therefore most people will chose to have no cars at all but simply order transportation within minutes using a Smartphone whenever they need to go to work, do shopping, take kids to school or other activity, etc.


1) Current Toyota Yaris life cost: 33,514 USD = (15,000 USD for Yaris + 13,714 USD for life gasoline + 4,800 USD for life maintenance).

Life cost per mile: 0.21 USD = $33,514 /160,000 miles service life.


2) Toyota Prius life cost: 41,000 USD = (24,000 USD for Prius + 12,000 USD for life gasoline + 5,000 USD for life maintenance).

Life cost per mile: 0.21 USD = $41,000/200,000 miles service life.

Now consider a fully autonomous taxi with an ultra durable 24kwh lithium titanate battery (10,000 cycles) giving it about 85 miles of range and a service life of 850,000 miles. With autonomous driving the range issue and charging time issue no longer exists as you can change the vehicle in seconds to go an additional 85 miles and keep doing it until you reach your destination. This is the BEV conception that will wipe out any gasser on the market because its total cost per mile is unbeatable by any gasser.

3) Autonomous taxi life cost: 76,800 USD = (35,000 USD for taxi + 28,800 USD for life electricity + 17,000 USD for life maintenance - 4000 USD scrap value of battery).

Life cost per mile: 0.09 USD = $76,800/850,000 miles service life.

Elon Musk estimates that Tesla will be ready with fully autonomous vehicles by 2020 and that the authorities will need 2 to 3 years more to make the necessary changes in the legislation to make it legal on all public roads. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11154037/Teslas-Elon-Musk-autonomous-driving-is-five-years-away.html

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Add 1) Toyota Yaris assumptions: 1) Service life is 160,000 miles, 2) long-term price of gasoline is 3 USD, 3) it gets 35mpg so 13,714 USD spend on gasoline = (160,000/35)*$3, 4) maintenance cost for oil change, tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 300 USD per 10,000 miles so 4,800 USD = (160,000/10,000)*300 USD.

Add 2) Toyota Prius assumptions: 1) Service life is 200,000 miles, 2) long-term price of gasoline is 3 USD, 3) it gets 50mpg so 12,000 USD spend on gasoline = (200,000/50)*$3, 4) maintenance cost for oil change, tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 250 USD per 10,000 miles so 5000 USD = (200,000/10,000)*250 USD.

Add 3) Fully autonomous taxi assumptions: 1) Service life is 850,000 miles (= 85 miles battery range*10,000 deep cycles) which corresponds favorably to warranty for Toshibas lithium titanate batteries (see http://www.scib.jp/en/product/detail.htm). 2) 0.28kwh is used to drive one mile (=24kwh battery/85miles range), 3) electricity cost is 28,800 USD = (12 cents per kwh * 0.28kwh* 850,000 miles) which could be much lower off peak, 4) maintenance cost for tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 200 USD per 10,000 miles so 17,000 USD = (850,000/10,000)*200 USD, 5) scrap value of battery after 850,000 miles is 4000 USD. 6) The Leaf sized vehicle costs 35,000 USD with a 24kwh battery. It is assumed 12000 USD (=24*$500) can be attributed to the battery pack, 6,000 USD for autonomous technology (computers, sensors and redundancy of critical systems) and 17,000 USD for other car expenses. All costs are including gross margins.

HarveyD

Nisan's and similar e-taxis being developed for NYC and other places could be ideal as driverless transporters.

Smart phones together with appropriate (UBER like) application could be used to guide the closest e-vehicle for pick-up. More passengers could be served on the way to further reduce traffic load.

A few thousand such driverless e-vehicles could eliminate may private cars and city buses from the streets.

Many people could do without a private car.

Cities, States, Provinces and Federal governments could invest into the system to reduce GHG, pollution, travel delays, accidents, injuries and fatalities and reduce health cost.

Roger Pham

Vehicle ownership is more than just for personal transportation. It is also a personal statement and a reflection of status in society. Case in point: although my parents have long retired and do not have to go to work daily, they are still acquiring new $60k-80k luxury cars/SUV'S every few years, while trading in perfectly good older cars that have been garaged all the time and therefore in perfect shape, paint, interior, mechanicals, etc... simply because they want to sample new technologies, and their friends in the circle are doing the same.

That said, there is a dire need to reduce traffic congestion in major metropolitan areas. According to this article, autonommous driving car cannot solve this problem, because more miles will have to be driven. Yet, most people do not tolerate the inconvenience of fixed-route public transportaton.

Future computerized jitney service, with a minimum-wage human attendants in case of self-driving vehicle, can be cost-effective using a 10-passenger van and 4-rows of seat. One van can remove 5-7 cars off the road, while costing only 1.5-2x the cost of a car, and consumes 1/5th the amount of energy.

All requests for pickup and delivery can be pre-scheduled, for example, to and from work daily, or to Dr.'s appointments, to reduce cost, and a central computer can group these requests for travel in the same direction to minimize routing distances and transit times. Interactions will be using smart phones with time of pickup updated on the minute by computers, and text-messaged to eliminate the need for long wait time at the door.
On-demand and short-notice requests will cost more, but, with volume,can be cost-effective.
In cities with high traffic congestion and pollution,high unemployment level, coupled with parking space shortages, the city gov. can subsidize some of the cost to gain savings in road maintenance, congestion reduction, reducing parking space shortages, and pollution curbing measures.

Money used for job creation can be used to subsidize these jitney services by hiring human attendants and human base operators for the whole system, so really, no extra cost to have human elements in the loop. Would you rather have people watch TV at home while receiving food stamps and welfare checks with full medical benefits, thanks to ObamaCare, or would you rather have them doing something worthwhile like being a minimum-wage jitney service attendant?

With partially subsidized cost as well as prompt pickup and delivery thanks to computerized scheduling, the volume of use will be high, and cost will be affordable, even with subsidies eventually cutoff after achieving critical mass for cost savings. People will still own luxury vehicles in the garage just for showing off to their friends and associates in the weekends, but chauffeur-driven jitney service using HOV lanes during weekdays will be unbeatable!

JMartin

Roger: Your parents are a different generation from the one coming up.
I think we will see autonomous cars used for short trips like to the grocery, Costco, AND to public transit--probably PRT which is simply autonomous vehicles on elevated rail. Yes, some people will want their status vehicle or one for travel, but not for everyday use. The aging population will help drive (pardon the pun) this trend.

Roger Pham

Good point, JMartin.

However, autonomous cars, if carrying only one person per car, will not solve the problem of road congestion.
Self-driving jitney 10-passenger vans WITH A HUMAN ATTENDANT can be used to pick up and drop off people to and from public transit stations both ways, making public transit much more appealing.

We have got to put human in the loop in order to avoid bloated welfare budgets and job-creation budgets, and crimes and other social ills due to people having no job, too much free time and nothing to do. All this have to be pre-engineered in order to prevent social dis-harmony.

JMartin

Roger, I share your concerns about job creation and other social ills. I don't think paying them to drive vehicles is necessarily the answer. We need to address these issues as a society, but maintaining outmoded work models is not the answer. India used to require people to spin yarn at home in order to keep them employed. That did not work out so well.

ai_vin

Roger, I don't know how it is in your home town but in mine a large part of the road congestion comes from the cars parked along the sides of the roads. Getting rid of those means two more lanes for traffic. Autonomous cars means there will be less cars per household and by extension less cars on the road - in motion AND parked. Plus, autonomous cars can help with this parking/traffic conflict because even if they are not needed by someone else in the household they can go find a place to park after they drop off their passenger that will not be on the roads: They will no longer have to be parked where the driver wants it for his convenience because when he wants his car back it can come to him.

Another big part of road congestion is accidents. Autonomous cars could reduce these as well. Even a simple thing like indecisive drivers, people who wait too long at lights/stop signs/turns, can slow traffic to a crawl. Autonomous cars could reduce them also.

Account Deleted

Roger your parents (or anybody else) do not have to forego social status by dropping car ownership. They could order a fully loaded autonomous Model X (with a 150,000 USD sticker price) for every trip they make and still save money compared to owning a 80,000 USD car parked in the garage most of the time.
Congestion is minimized with autonomous cars for reasons in addition to those ai_vin mentions. Autonomous cars can safely keep a shorter distance to other vehicles at higher speed than any human driver can do. You can also increase the speed at highways. No need for a 65 mph speed limit in all lanes on the highway if autonomous cars can do it safely at 85 mph.

Also most people today drive alone in large cars with 4 to 7 seats. An autonomous taxi service will not send you a 7 seater if you order travel for one at the lowest fair. It will send you a standard one seater with a build in office table for your laptop to get work done or for entertainment. That one seater will take up much less space on the roads. Also autonomous taxis are online cars that know about congestions in real time and can find alternative roads to avoid it.

Account Deleted

It appears Apple is also working on an electric car and it would make no sense for Apple if this is not an autonomous BEV. See http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/02/14/apple-rumoured-be-working-top-secret-electric-car-resembles-minivan

Autonomous cars are coming in 5 years or so and I think it will either be Tesla, Apple or Google that will be the first to sell such a car. The old automakers will probably not be up to it IMO. They are thinking too conventionally and they do not have the software developers that are the most critical to get this done. Making a BEV is not the problem any longer. There are plenty of people for hire that can do that. Tesla is my bet on who will be first. They have a lead with that autopilot in the Model S that can receive software upgrades as soon as they are ready. My bet is also that most of the future headlines in the auto world will not be about new BEVs and PHEVs but rather about new capabilities for auto-pilot systems. It is more interesting because it is more transformative for the industry and the world than just going from gas engines to electric motors. Most people do not care what engine moves their car anyway. Here, again Tesla will get the front page each time they add software and hardware upgrades to their vehicles that will take them one step closer to the end goal of a fully autonomous system.

CheeseEater88

I think that the fully autonomous vehicles in this study are mainly private users, also it makes several big assumptions about vehicle longevity.

There is no convincingly direct correlation to miles and end of service life for a modern vehicle.

If a vehicle is properly maintained, and parts are made available, it can pretty much go on indefinitely with little to no problems. Look to courier vehicles, 300k -800k miles with only minor repairs... Yes some did need some expensive repairs, but usually you can get there no problem on almost any make with only minor things like half shafts and suspension, and oil seals.
Most problems get expensive if ignored, especially regarding a catalyst/emissions.

You also have to remember that it will probably be much harder to crash an autonomous car lowering insurance rates, the need for a second vehicle goes away, thus all the expensive upkeep and maint. Associated with it goes away.

Again usually age kills cars, or wrecks...

My hypothesis is that autonomous vehicles remove usually abusive drivers from the situation, both in carelessness of driving and poor driving habits. Better behavior can make cars last longer. I'd wager with good autonomous cars we still keep parity with the 11.4years or even increase that number. Without as many car wrecks to remove cars from the road there will probably be a good number in service. Keep in mind dealers are pushing service contracts, an autonomous vehicle can basically go service itself while you're at work, these cars will probably require by law maintenance, due to the publics apprehension with technology.

Yes more vehicle miles per vehicle, but I'd wager that with public/private business transportation ccar pooling would rapidly increase creating a lower annual nu.ber of road miles. Most cars every day are driven by one driver and no occupants. That situation can easily change with ride sharing smart routing and car pooling. I'd wager many households won't own cars, they wont need too. Especially if taxi rates are below what it would cost a person to own a vehicle.

Vehicles are the second largest purchase many make, new and used vehicle sales make up more than 25% of the tax base for almost every state in the US, the economy will have to change if autonomous cars be come rather successful.

If you figure ~$400-600/month long term for a car, purchase price maint. Insurance etcetera: ride share/ taxi services only need to hit around $0.50 a mile to be competitive. BEVs and other advances like car pooling will sink operating costs to a few pennies a mile. There is money to be had, therefore it will happen.

Account Deleted

OK that rumor only took a few hours on the internet before unnamed sources confirmed to Reuters that Apple indeed is working on an autonomous BEV which is the only way that Apple can use its software and design expertise to beat the old automakes on their own game of making vehicles. So watch up GM, Toyota and VW because you are in for some serious competition going ahead. It will be truly interesting to see how this will play out in the coming 5 to 7 years. Codenamed project Titan Apple has currently approved that 1000 people are employed to make it happen. The race is on among the technology and automotive giants as well as the Tesla startup for the biggest business opportunity of the century. Again, my bet is that Tesla will be first to market and that all Tesla vehicles will have autonomous capability including Model 3 starting from about 2020 to 2023.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/14/uk-apple-autos-idUKKBN0LI0IN20150214

HarveyD

Henrik may be close to reality.

Driverless shared electrified vehicles (various sizes and makes) could and will start to reduce congestion on city streets and highways by 2025 or so. By picking 2 to 8 passengers on the way, the number of cars/vehicles on the road will be progressively reduced and so would be accidents, insurance cost, health care cost etc.

Composite or aluminum alloy future e-vehicles could and will last over 500,000 miles with minimum maintenance, specially when used as taxis or shared vehicles.

Many current drivers and mechanics will have to be retrained as Solar Cells and storage units installers, automated quick charge stations installers, home slow charge units etc etc.

CheeseEater88

HarveyD An E vehicle like the Tesla Model S should probably go 800k miles before it ceases to be useful. Again it can totally be refreshed with a new battery for much cheaper than a new car and resume long routes again.

A long range EV can be dutied for shorter and shorter runs as the battery decays, ultimately become a short hop kind of thing, working a fixed low mileage route. But after 30miles it will be useless. I figure a battery like the size of the S should be good till then. An autonomous EV like the S can be run nearly 20hrs a day, those 800k miles could happen fast. Also this taxi type service would do wonders for OEM testing.

JMartin

CheeseEater88: You introduce an interesting idea for car sharing. My guess is that the software could allow riders to choose private or shared rides and charge differential pricing accordingly. That way the inefficiencies of many stops (the major problem with bus and light rail) can be eliminated for those who are willing to pay. Others can save $.

CheeseEater88

Its just like splitting a cab fare. But you could give it incentives for more passengers... Giving incentives to the riders on board, and allowing them to be more tolerant of more stops.

Imagine if every car had 4 people in it? That would remove almost 70% of traffic!

Routes could be planned a day in advance to maximize efficiencies and reduce cost. Also there wouldn't be a need for drivers, we could use cameras and basically drone controls for troublesome situations

Account Deleted

I have now made the calculation of the business case for autonomous taxi BEVs fully realistic by also including insurance cost. Furthermore, the cost of the autonomous BEV taxi is now compared to the case of owning a Toyota Camry and the cost of using a Camry with a human taxi driver.

The conclusion is that the autonomous BEV taxi will cost you 0.16 USD per mile to drive. The self-owned Camry will cost you 0.41 USD per mile or about 500 USD per month if you drive 15,000 miles per year (= ($0.41*15,000/12). Finally, the human operated taxi Camry will cost you 1.41 USD per mile which is representative of actual taxi rates.

Reducing the cost of taxi driving from 1.41 USD to 0.16 USD per mile using an autonomous BEV taxi is simply revolutionary. The world will change for the better as a result. Fewer traffic accidents, no air pollution from land transportation, no import of oil for making transportation fuels, no wasted time by traffic congestion. Time spend for transportation can be used productively to sleep, eat, work or for entertainment or education. The average American household can reduce transportation expenses from 500 USD per month per car needed in household to 200 USD per car (= ($0.16*15,000/12). This is as big as it gets for the automotive industry.


Documentation for costs to drive one mile:

1) Life cost to own Toyota Camry: 65,133 USD = (23,000 USD for Camry + 16,000 USD for life gasoline + 4,800 USD for life maintenance + 21,333 USD for life car insurance).

Life cost per mile: 0.41 USD = $65,133/160,000 miles service life.


2) Life cost of Toyota Camry with human taxi driver: 225,133 USD = (23,000 USD for Camry + 16,000 USD for life gasoline + 4,800 USD for life maintenance + 21,333 USD for life car insurance + 160,000 USD for taxi driver).

Life cost per mile: 1.41 USD = $225,133 /160,000 miles service life.

Now consider a fully autonomous taxi with an ultra durable 24kwh lithium titanate battery (10,000 cycles) giving it about 85 miles of range and a service life of 850,000 miles. With autonomous driving the range issue and charging time issue no longer exists as you can change the vehicle in seconds to go an additional 85 miles and keep doing it until you reach your destination. This is the BEV conception that will wipe out any gasser on the market because its total cost per mile is unbeatable by any gasser.

3) Life cost of autonomous BEV taxi: 133,467 USD = (35,000 USD for BEV taxi + 28,800 USD for life electricity + 17,000 USD for life maintenance + 56,667 USD for life car insurance - 4000 USD scrap value of battery).

Life cost per mile: 0.16 USD = $133,467/850,000 miles service life.

Elon Musk estimates that Tesla will be ready with fully autonomous vehicles by 2020 and that the authorities will need 2 to 3 years more to make the necessary changes in the legislation to make it legal on all public roads. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11154037/Teslas-Elon-Musk-autonomous-driving-is-five-years-away.html

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Add 1) Toyota Camry assumptions: 1) Service life is 160,000 miles. 2) Long-term price of gasoline is 3 USD. 3) It gets 30 mpg so 16,000 USD spend on gasoline = (160,000/30)*$3. 4) Maintenance cost for oil change, tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 300 USD per 10,000 miles so 4,800 USD = (160,000/10,000)*300 USD. 5) Insurance cost is 2000 USD per 15000 miles so life car insurance is 21,333 USD = (160,000/15,000)*$2000.

Add 2) Toyota Camry taxi assumptions: 1) Service life is 160,000 miles. 2) Long-term price of gasoline is 3 USD. 3) It gets 30 mpg so 16,000 USD spend on gasoline = (160,000/30)*$3. 4) Maintenance cost for oil change, tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 300 USD per 10,000 miles so 4,800 USD = (160,000/10,000)*300 USD. 5) Insurance cost is 2000 USD per 15000 miles so life car insurance is 21,333 USD = (160,000/15,000)*$2000. 6) Hourly pay to chauffeur is 20 USD and hourly markup for time wasted and taxi company overhead is another 20 USD. Operating hours in service for life of car assuming 40 mph is 4000 hours =(160,000/40) so total life cost of chauffeur and taxi company overhead is 160,000 USD = (4000*($20+$20)).

Add 3) Fully autonomous BEV taxi assumptions: 1) Service life is 850,000 miles (= 85 miles battery range*10,000 deep cycles) which corresponds favorably to warranty for Toshibas lithium titanate batteries (see http://www.scib.jp/en/product/detail.htm). 2) 0.28kwh is used to drive one mile (=24kwh battery/85miles range), 3) electricity cost is 28,800 USD = (12 cents per kwh * 0.28kwh* 850,000 miles) which could be much lower off peak, 4) maintenance cost for tires, brakes, coolant, etc is 200 USD per 10,000 miles so 17,000 USD = (850,000/10,000)*200 USD, 5) scrap value of battery after 850,000 miles is 4000 USD. 6) Insurance cost is 1000 USD per 15000 miles so life car insurance is 56,667 USD = (850,000/15,000)*$1000. The lower car insurance for autonomous vehicles assumes that they are twice as good as human drivers to avoid accidents. 7) The Leaf sized vehicle costs 35,000 USD with a 24kwh battery. It is assumed 12000 USD (=24kwh*$500) can be attributed to the battery pack, 6,000 USD for autonomous technology (computers, sensors and redundancy of critical systems) and 17,000 USD for other car expenses. All costs are including gross margins.

Account Deleted

Another interesting perspective has come to my mind. The first autonomous taxis allowed to operate on public roads (such as, an autonomous Tesla Model 3 by 2023) could immediately undercut the standard 1.4 USD taxi rates per mile so everyone would try to get a ride with such a car when they need a taxi. That would mean they could be operated almost around the clock in the early days of autonomous taxi driving. This is important because if you can operate an autonomous taxi say 18 hours per day covering 40 miles per hour (using remaining 6 hours for maintenance, cleaning and charging) you could do 262,800 miles per year! The average American car do 15,000 miles per year so each autonomous taxi can replace 17 to 18 ordinary cars. By 2023 Tesla's annual global sales could be over 1 million BEVs and if they were all operated as autonomous taxi's they could take at least 17 million ordinary gassers off the street per year! This is insane. In other words, when autonomous cars first arrive in about 2023 they will hit the global auto industry like a sledgehammer knocking everybody out of business that are not able to quickly change their production system to autonomous BEVs. You adapt quickly or you go bankrupt quickly. Getting autonomous BEVs to market ASAP is simply a life and death decision for the global auto industry. The sooner they get it the merrier.

Alex_C

Autonomous cars won't reduce traffic congestion, as people would go about their business as usual in the cars of the same size. Instead of driving they may choose to sleep while being driven to destination, but they would occupy the same area of the road anyway.

The way to reduce congestion would be to split (one) wide lane in two mini lanes and introduce narrow cars, no wider than 1.25 m, incl mirrors (cameras).
US Interstate highways have lanes 12 ft wide, which is 3.65 m. Split that in half, you get two 1.80 m lanes. Or two mini-lanes. Instead of HOV lane. Or somehow combine those 2 things.
I had this idea for a few years, and the other day I saw the right vehicle for it.
It's a single seater EV, range 110 km. Width 1.25 m, fully enclosed - Colibri EV.
Previous Japanese Kei cars were 1.25 m wide, now they can be wider, but they have 2 seats abreast, I'm thinking of one-seater, possibly with second seat behind, like in Renault Twingo.

http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20150128-meet-the-tiny-colibri-germanys-one-seat-wonder
http://www.innovative-mobility.com/en/colibri/Specs.php

It has in-floor battery which makes it stable, and more difficult for malicious overturning by vandals (happens with the Smart).
IMO a car 1.25 m wide, incl mirrors, can be safely driven in 1.80 m lane, up to 70-80 kph (43-50 mph).
Single seater, enough, over 80% of cars driven to work carry only one person.

The policy of using the lane w/ 2 mini lanes could be flexible, tailored for max throughput in rush hours, when only narrow cars would be allowed in those lanes, and required to use only one mini lane. The mini lanes could be shared with motorbikes. It could create market for trikes or reverse-trikes. French Poste introduced small trikes for deliveries.
In city areas with low speed limit, one of those lanes (closer to sidewalk) could also be shared with push bikes.
Such cars could be made the same for right and left-hand markets, reducing development and production costs.
What do you think?

Roger Pham

@Henrik,
You stated: "The average American car do 15,000 miles per year so each autonomous taxi can replace 17 to 18 ordinary cars."

Except that if each autonomous taxi will carry only one person per trip to work, you will still need a lot of vehicles, and the streets will still be very crowded, just the same.
If each autonomous taxi can carry 4 persons, without an human attendant to watch over them, they may do crazy things to each other (molestation, fighting, etc...)and then will sue your company for damages.

With a 10-12 passenger van jitney service and a human attendant to watch over them, you can remove 8 cars off the street for each van. Let's say that each human attendant is paid $10 per hour without health benefit since they will only be employed part-time, and the van has average speed of 30 mph and carry 10 passengers during peak hours, then the extra cost of having a human attendant would be $10 divided by 30mph divided by 10 passengers = $0.03 per hour. This cost is negligible in the larger scheme of things considering the fact that average cost per mile for automobile ownership is $0.608 per mile in 2012. Source:
http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_03_17.html

@Alex,
I came to the same conclusion to yours many decades ago, however, the safety of the narrow and featherweight vehicle is severely lacking, and you can only remove 1 car off the road for every 2 narrow vehicles in used. Even with dedicated lanes for narrow-track-width vehicles, collisions among these flimsy and marginally-stable vehicles would result in significant injuries and traffic obstruction.

However, using a 10-12-passenger van for computer-matching and route-directing jitney service, safety is guaranteed, while one van can remove 7-8 cars off the street, and the passengers do not have to drive, thus can make use of these quality times in a large and stable moving platform for productive work.

Roger Pham

@Henrik,
You stated: "The average American car do 15,000 miles per year so each autonomous taxi can replace 17 to 18 ordinary cars."

Except that if each autonomous taxi will carry only one person per trip to work, you will still need a lot of vehicles, and the streets will still be very crowded, just the same.
If each autonomous taxi can carry 4 persons, without an human attendant to watch over them, they may do crazy things to each other (molestation, fighting, etc...)and then will sue your company for damages.

With a 10-12 passenger van jitney service and a human attendant to watch over them, you can remove 8 cars off the street for each van. Let's say that each human attendant is paid $10 per hour without health benefit since they will only be employed part-time, and the van has average speed of 30 mph and carry 10 passengers during peak hours, then the extra cost of having a human attendant would be $10 divided by 30mph divided by 10 passengers = $0.03 per passenger mile. This cost is negligible in the larger scheme of things considering the fact that average cost per mile for automobile ownership is $0.608 per mile in 2012. Source:
http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_03_17.html

@Alex,
I came to the same conclusion to yours many decades ago, however, the safety of the narrow and featherweight vehicle is severely lacking, and you can only remove 1 car off the road for every 2 narrow vehicles in used. Even with dedicated lanes for narrow-track-width vehicles, collisions among these flimsy and marginally-stable vehicles would result in significant injuries and traffic obstruction.

However, using a 10-12-passenger van for jitney service, safety is guaranteed, while one van can remove 7-8 cars off the street, and the passengers do not have to drive, thus can make use of these quality times in a large and stable moving platform for productive work.

Account Deleted

A few years back Denmark put video surveillance in all taxis, buses and trains. The result was that crime rates at these places plummeted to nearly zero. And the very few people who still are dumb enough to do something illegal in these places are nearly all caught. You are more secure in a Danish taxi than at home where you could be surprised by a burglar or something worse. A technology company like Apple, Tesla or Uber could make things even safer by developing active video and voice surveillance software that could alert a human security operator in a call center in case the AI software sees or hears things that needs the attention of a human security operator. Moreover, like at Uber you will not be allowed to order a cap unless your credit card has been verified ahead. Also to further increase security you could develop face recognition, voice recognition software in combination with fingerprint and iris scans that you need to activate outside the taxi by stating you name and looking into a camera. Once your ID is confirmed the door to the taxi will open. The only real concern is hackers.

The autonomous cloud controlled taxi will obviously solve the city congestion problem IMO.

ai_vin

Road congestion may be taking care of itself;
http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Traveled.php

"In the big picture, there are profound behavioral issues apart from gasoline prices that are influencing miles traveled. These would include the demographics of an aging population in which older people drive less, continuing high unemployment, the ever-growing ability to work remote in the era of the Internet and the use of ever-growing communication technologies as a partial substitute for face-to-face interaction."

http://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/A%20New%20Direction%20vUS.pdf

"The Driving Boom — a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States — is over.

Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did nine years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton's first term. The unique combination of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom — from cheap gas prices to the rapid expansion of the workforce during the Baby Boom generation — no longer exists. Meanwhile, a new generation — the Millennials — sees a new American Dream that is less dependent on driving."

Alex_C


@Roger,
The idea behind narrow lane(s) for narrow cars was to increase throughput of single-occupant vehicles, not to remove some vehicles from streets. Add a third lane, and you increase throughput by 50%. Remember how traffic slows down dramatically when one lane out of 3 gets closed.
Naturally the Asian countries with high percentage of scooter and motorbike vehicles would benefit the most from such lanes. Italy too, and some other countries. In North America would probably be little interest for it.
In rush hour all motorikes/scooters could be forced to use narrow lane if available, the traffic is monitored in real time, lane rules change in real time. In certain areas of Paris they plan (or already did) introduce speed limit of 30 kph (19 mph) - even scooters are safe at those speeds. Narrow car is an all weather car, scooter is not. With battery in the floor, the car should be quite stable.
A lighter EV recharges much quicker than a regular size car.
Regarding safety - motorbikes are many times more dangerous vehicles, and they are legal everywhere.

Account Deleted

An autonomous BEV that is only 4.5 feet wide and has two seats around a center office table could drive side by side on the same lane and in train formation with similar autonomous cars. That would lower the air drag and get more people through without adding lanes. Such formations would be impossible with human drivers but not with AI drivers that can react instantly and exploit the also nearly zero latency of a fully BEV drive train where you get full torque or braking power in milliseconds. The problem with humans and combustion engines is they both have high latencies. Another problem with human drivers is that they slow down to study traffic accidents and other stuff instead of just speeding on as they should to get the traffic moving. Autonomous cars will not do that.

I do not believe for one second that a narrow but tall two seat autonomous BEV will be instable. It has a heavy battery and two heavy engines at the floor of the car and nearly zero weigh above wheel height apart from the passengers. At high speeds in windy weather it could deploy fins to become even more stable but I don't think that would be necessary if you do the stability calculations.

ai_vin

"Train formation" or platooning can greatly increase the capacity of our roads. Due to the limits of human reflexes we are taught to follow the 2 second rule when driving. The two-second rule is useful as it can be applied to any speed and results in the equivalent of one vehicle-length distance between any two cars for every 8 km/h (5 mph) of the current speed. Imagine computer controlled cars reducing the 2 second rule to 2 feet. It would be like having 5 lanes for every one.

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