Obsessed by the improvements of StarTrek and the fourth millennium, while feeling restricted by the limits of today's technology or that boring second law of thermodynamics? Just let your imagination flow - you needn't be Scotty to beam your thoughts in here!
By gracken
okay, the idea is for autonomous vehicles in a simplified environment for transporting goods from one place to another.

google's autonomous vehicles are a great feat of engineering because they deal with a lot of variables in the real world: traffic, the mother with the baby stroller crossing the street, road construction, etc.

but a certain amount of traffic on a countries highways is freight. The 16 wheelers transporting raw materials and goods from factories to ports and vice versa.

if some of the highway infrastructure was dedicated to only transporting freight using only autonomous vehicles, the engineering problem would become simplified.

all you would need is , aside from the map information, is a redundant positioning system, say gps or radio markers along the road, or both or something else altogether.

aside from that you would need to control that the autonomous vehicles generally get to where they need to go and and that they not crash into each other. this can be done in a decentralized distributed way by maybe allowing the on board guidance systems to communicate between each other or with basic sensor feedback or (probably) both or something else.

picture a cylindrical container on top of a omnidirectional skateboard (similar to gm's hywire).

this skateboard would be self contained, including the electric vehicle parts, the batteries, the guidance computer, etc.

the algorithm could be as simple as a flocking algorithm in 2d to keep the independent vehicles from bumping into each other.

there would be off ramps all along the way so that any vehicle could reach said port or a factory. and a basic communication system would be necessary to call vehicles back or reroute, things like that.

anyway, that�s it

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By Steve
Can you please capitalize your sentences? O:)

Also, I am not quite sure if I understand the difference between your idea and the idea everyone is already working on. Since the variables essentially reflect the real world, I don't see how they can be reduced just because the vehicles transport goods instead of people. Even though mothers with baby strollers are less likely on the highway, any autonomous vehicle will still have to be programmed for all evantualities.
By gracken

I think it would be greatly reduced. Think of the attention to the many variables a human driver has to keep in mind on even a regular road. All the stop signs, traffic lights, other drivers, kids crossing the street, etc., etc., etc.

A project like google cars has to use LIDAR, gps, sensors (a range finder), as well as track it's own movement. That is why it has to plan it's routes on off board (not in the vehicle) servers before attempting a trip.

A designer could easily fence off these highways to keep people off these dedicated highways.

And the on board computer on the proposed vehicles would only need to keep track of their current position and velocity and how it relates to it's route. As well as information of the vehicles in their immediate proximity.

And these nearby vehicles would constantly be communicating their own position and velocity to this one vehicle and vice versa.

A driver on the road has to be alert as to other peoples unpredictable behavior on the road and so must google's vehicle.
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By Steve
I've moved this to the Sci-Fi Pond. The reason being that you'd need dedicated highways, that are more or less hermetically sealed and fenced to keep the machines in and the humans out. Not saying it will never happen, but given the enormous costs, not anytime soon. Simplified? Not so sure. :wink:

Closest thing to this already existing: cargo trains.
By gracken

I wouldn't say 'hermetically sealed'. Just maybe with barricades on the sides and chain link 'tunnel', sort of like this:

https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2586/3678 ... 9ed1_z.jpg

over the highway. At least around populated areas.

I could go into more detail, but i don't want to run it into the ground. I'll just say that like with any technology, there would be pros and cons.

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