Author Topic: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads  (Read 2947 times)

Spekulatius

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2018, 07:40:20 AM »
I think we will have self driving trains before self driving trucks, since trains have already a dedicated lane, by definition. It should be much easier to implement and in fact there are already several systems operating.



I don't doubt that at all. But, what will be the potential savings?  A typical train might move 10,000 tonnes of freight and it requires how much labour to operate?  Are there three guys in a train these days?  So, if you eliminated those three guys, you'd save perhaps $100/hour each, or $300/hour total?  So, you might save $300 for every 600,000 tonne-miles?  Those savings don't strike me as a game changer.
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Eliminating human error from railway operations, however, is probably a good thing.
SJ




I think improving the efficiency and reducing errors will be the largest benefit. Unions will probably be trying to block progress, but the same is going to happen with respect to autopilot trucks
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Cigarbutt

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2018, 09:19:05 AM »
The historical evolution of railroad employment shows a long term trend that started well before the 1980 deregulation Staggers Act.

https://www.railserve.com/employment.html

Freight railways have continued to decrease manpower but it is hard to see big savings going forward at that level.

Since the Staggers Act, freight railway has produced a widening and staggering growth in productivity in comparison to air, trucks and private business in general but this growth has also shown a tendency to become flatter because the low hanging fruits are gone. From the input side, there are still potential promising areas (increased locomotive efficiency, innovations in car design and capacity, longer train lengths, improvements in operating practices, and technological innovations in train control). From the input side, I would submit that the moat that freight railways have for long-haul transportation will continue to widen versus trucks because the roads are essentially public infrastructures that need to be shared. IMO, driverless truck technology and convoys will not compensate this growing disadvantage.

Would like to add though that the major reason for increased productivity and improved operating ratios (BTW most of the gains have been harvested by shippers (and consumers?) although that may be changing? {railway pricing power versus potential re-regulation}) has come not from rationalizations and decreased employment but from increased economies of densities (increasing output in ton-milles per network) and the two most important factors behind this phenomenon have been 1-western coal and 2-intermodal shipments related to containerization and increased global trade. Interesting to note that increased energy prices would tend to magnify the moat between freight trains and trucks (even driverless) but economies of densities can go both ways.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2018, 09:23:02 AM by Cigarbutt »

John Hjorth

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2018, 11:48:55 AM »
Aren't there already self driving trains around the world? The Copenhagen metro, partly inaugurated in 2014 - still not fully completed - but since then at least connecting Malmö [Sweden], Copenhagen Airport and Copenhagen Central Rail Station is running by use of driverless trains. It feels like you're some kind of residue slag on a conveyor belt, while the reality most likely is more that you're in a drone train.
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Cigarbutt

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2018, 05:33:00 PM »
Aren't there already self driving trains around the world? The Copenhagen metro, partly inaugurated in 2014 - still not fully completed - but since then at least connecting Malmö [Sweden], Copenhagen Airport and Copenhagen Central Rail Station is running by use of driverless trains. It feels like you're some kind of residue slag on a conveyor belt, while the reality most likely is more that you're in a drone train.

The technology adoption is spreading. Closer to home (Montreal), there will be a major upgrade to provide a complete driverless light metro system (to be completed in 2021) led by Alstom. When you think of it, commuting metro/trains in urban centers are conceptually similar to elevators. And now, elevator operators are a thing of the past.
http://www.elevatordesigninfo.com/why-elevator-operators-went-extinct

Freight trains may be next on the list but security issues will be raised. It is possible that resistance (union or otherwise) will be met. Anyways, as mentioned before, I think that potential cost savings would be minimal but human errors due to fatigue (real problem) could be eliminated.

Apparently planes would also be a realizable target. Would you board on a plane without a pilot?
I have a feeling that my grandkids may find it funny when I will tell them that there was actually a pilot sitting in the plane.
The pace of change is accelerating. Buckle up!

VAL9000

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2018, 06:25:45 PM »
This debate reminds me of packet switching vs circuit switching.

I think that eventually packet switching (self driving trucks) will win in overall cost vs circuit switching (trains).  But the economic model of self driving trucks will be very different from today's trucking model.

LR1400

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2018, 03:39:59 AM »
I just don’t see convoying being allowed. The public will revolt at dealing with 20+ trucks convoying together on already congested highways. If you are going to convoy, why not just rail. Much less disruption to public traffic flow.

longtermdave

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2018, 01:28:37 PM »
I imagine the trucks in these convoys would have some kind of anti-collision logic dictating their behavior. What's to stop people from simply "bullying" the convoy when they want to take the lane? Drive at the convoy quickly or get too close and watch the trucks back off. How much of this behavior would negate the benefits of the convoy? What's to keep convoy bullying from becoming a sport for newly-licensed teens? How hard would it be to stop the whole convoy and steal the merchandise?

LC

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2018, 09:33:01 PM »
This debate reminds me of packet switching vs circuit switching.

I disagree. Trucks and trains do not travel over the same network.
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rb

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2018, 11:10:27 PM »
I imagine the trucks in these convoys would have some kind of anti-collision logic dictating their behavior. What's to stop people from simply "bullying" the convoy when they want to take the lane? Drive at the convoy quickly or get too close and watch the trucks back off. How much of this behavior would negate the benefits of the convoy? What's to keep convoy bullying from becoming a sport for newly-licensed teens? How hard would it be to stop the whole convoy and steal the merchandise?
Do not worry the programmers figured this one out. Code will be embedded. Their AI will determine which vehicles are likely to be driven by teens and they will behave aggressively like the bad guys in Transformers to ward them off. In addition, their LIDARS will constantly be scanning for pickups with hanging testicles. If rednecks are detected the convoy will shift to a self defense mode. It will change colour and will blurt out liberal things to repel them. It's all second order thinking, you just don't get it. /sarc

LC

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Re: Self-Driving Trucks: Will They Disrupt Railroads
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2018, 01:02:08 AM »
Just have the truck cameras record the incident and forward to local police.
"Lethargy bordering on sloth remains the cornerstone of our investment style."
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