back to article Truckers, prepare to lose your jobs as UPS buys into self-driving tech

Package delivery giant UPS has invested in TuSimple, a self-driving startup based in San Diego, California, to develop autonomous trucks, the mega-corp announced on Thursday. The two companies have been testing vehicles by shuttling truckloads of goods on a well-established freight route between Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona …

  1. Time Waster

    Delivery drivers do more than just drive

    How are they planning on getting the parcels out of the truck and actually to the destination? I’m sure some crazy parcel vending contraption could be developed to allow the customer to get them themselves but you don’t hear or many startups researching that.... and I can’t imagine such a machine is going to improve the truck’s weight or load carrying ability. Likewise, how long will these things wait for you to come out and collect your stuff? I can only guess they’re going to be significantly slower than a driver who can get out and ring a doorbell. This would also be a significantly worse experience for many customers, having to lug potentially heavy packages from wherever it manages to find a parking space. In fact, in many cities finding a legal parking space is basically impossible, leading to the question of whether the AI would copy their human counterparts and simply ignore such restrictions? This seems even more far fetched than Amazon’s drone delivery marketing stunts.

    1. Ashentaine

      Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

      This isn't meant for the delivery trucks that actually drop the packages at your house, it's for the tractor trailers that haul large amounts of packages between freight hubs. The brown boxy trucks that trundle around your neighborhood and make all the local dogs bark like maniacs won't be affected by this.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

        Yes, automating the local delivery truck is going to be much harder, because there are more starts and stops and in urban environments you have to do things like double park, and of course you have to get the packages out of the truck and into the hands of the recipient. And people are not going to be happy getting an alert that a UPS truck will be out front in 5 minutes, and can you come outside and grab your package out of the back, and only your package....

        But long haul trucking from warehouse to warehouse/factory/store is going to be much easier to automate, because there will only be stops at the start and end and at gas stations to be refueled every few hundred miles.

        I can see why this is happening, but there are going to be millions of guys just in the U.S. and Canada who are without college educations and who make a decent living for themselves and their families that are going to be left applying for jobs at Wal-Mart and Burger KIng. Plus cooks/waitresses/cleaning staff at truck stops, hotels and diners, and a comparative few college-educated guys in logistics who spend at least a good chunk of their time on personnel scheduling, training, supervision, compliance and hiring.

        1. Graybyrd
          Devil

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          Humans? We don't need no steenking humans!

          1. vtcodger Silver badge

            Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

            Except for amusement park rides on dedicated tracks (e.g. the automated SUVs in the Jurassic Park movie) long distance trucking looks to be one of the easiest situations for autonomous vehicles. But it's still damn difficult. It makes sense for those in the business to learn how to do it and plug away at getting to the point where drivers are so rarely needed that the trucks confronted with difficult situations can simply pull over and wait for someone to come out and sort things out. But that point is likely many, many years away.

            Safe, 100% reliable, autonomous vehicles look to be a HARD PROBLEM And nothing we've seen so far makes them seem any easier.

        2. Ashentaine

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          I doubt UPS going to robodriving will completely kill the trucking industry. Certainly the larger outfits may follow suit eventually, but there are still hundreds of smaller regional trucking and shipping firms in North America that would rather pay owner-drivers rather than spend the big bucks buying their own fleet of trucks.

          Things may change in the industry, and possibly not for the better, but it's not a sign of impending widespread collapse.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And people are not going to be happy getting an alert that a UPS truck

          I think you're totally wrong. In mid-1970s nobody would have been happy to be getting a message that their package can be collected at a local supermarket, or a strong box, and nobody would have been happy that they get to pay for their luggage when boarding a plane, a train, or a bus, or that they have to print their tickets. Or that they can't speak to a friendly, knowledgeable clerk at their local bank's branch. And yet, as unhappy, as they are, millions of people do those things in 2019. And as unhappy as they are, they will - themselves - unload their own amazon box that comes in an auto-truck. First, because it will (SEEM) to be a cheaper (FREE!!!! FREE!!!) service than that offered via competitive delivery business, and secondly, because - sooner or later - people will have no choice, it's either that, or nothing. Actually, as long as people stay in daytime employments, and deliveries are made in daytime, mostly, they'll be probably shipped to local(ish) mini-depots... oh, hang on, wouldn't it be a wonderful (business) idea, this vision that when we're all asleep, those auto busy-bodies move (silently) around the streets with deliveries? Think of all the daytime congestion that would be gone (lol). The future is bright, until the bulk of the jobs gets automated and billions of fat bodies staying at home can't afford to buy any shiny-shiny :)

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: And people are not going to be happy getting an alert that a UPS truck

            @AC

            "The future is bright, until the bulk of the jobs gets automated and billions of fat bodies staying at home can't afford to buy any shiny-shiny :)"

            To be honest that was the concern when farm equipment was sabotaged by the luddites. We always find something we want and even begin to consider a need.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          Hence the quads. I guess that's why they want quadcopters or little robot carts. Which do work in factories, but IMO are rather useless in an urban/"natural" environment. Though, those Boston Dynamics robot dogs with arm heads, might be fun little delivery mules.

          Saying that, most of this could be done with trained animals. Lol.

          1. stiine Silver badge

            Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

            [quote]Saying that, most of this could be done with trained animals. Lol.[/quote]

            You mean like Teamsters and Longshoremen?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

        Basically this is an attempt to reinvent trains in a country which has poor rail infrastructure. For a train the ratio of truck to driver can easily be 25 to 1 or more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          Any countries you have in mind for better rail infrastructure? Based on weight/distance, the US is similar or exceeds European countries for rail freight unless they have significant shipping:

          UK (2017):

          Road - 76%

          Rail: 9%

          US (2017)

          Road: 63.3%

          Rail: 15.3%

          France (2017)

          Road: 80%

          Rail: 16%

          Germany (2017)

          Road: 65%

          Rail: 23%

          EU reference:

          https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=File:Modal_split_of_inland_freight_transport,_2017_(%25_share_in_tonne-kilometres)_2.png

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

            Yes, in the US they do two mile double stacker container trains to Chicago, moving at 50 mph. If you want a box from Sweden to Italy ship is faster than train.

            The reason is that European railways are prioritizing passengers, whereas the US have focus on freight.

          2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

            Any countries you have in mind for better rail infrastructure? Based on weight/distance, the US is similar or exceeds European countries for rail freight unless they have significant shipping:

            Except in the critical high-density areas (such as the Northeastern US) where the rain infrastructure has been torn up, and even now when we should know better *CONTINUES* to be torn up. Sometimes for something as foolish as Faceborg executives bribing the county government to build a bike trail for the execs and three of their friends (hello Ulster).

            What is needed is more localized hubs where containers can be dropped off for local deliveries, and maybe smaller containerization options so they could be quickly offloaded at local stations. New Your Central Railroad had worked on an experimental system at one time, which had 4-6 containers (?) per rail car.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

            It's hardly the point how the US compares to Europe, because it is apples to oranges. The US is much bigger than the EU and the population centres are more dispersed. You would expect it to have a higher percentage of freight going by rail. The fact that the UK has a pathetically poor percentage of freight carried by rail, and heavy congestion on the motorways as a result, doesn't surprise me because I know we are crap at infrastructure. After a trip around Germany I remember a former colleague, a very free market economist, remarking "OK, I now see the case for an integrated transport policy".

            Russia, with a tiny economy compared to the US, is spending a lot on improving rail links with the East. China is attempting to grow rail freight by 30% in two years. The US is, in effect, betting on software to solve a logistics problem.

        2. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          "Basically this is an attempt to reinvent trains"

          It might look that way, but probably not. I imagine trains will still be used for long haul like traffic from the massive container port at Wilmington(Los Angeles) California to distribution points hundreds or thousands of miles/kilometers to the East or North. I think automated trucks will be used for short and medium haul. Phoenix to Tucson is, as I recall about 100 miles/160km. Moving a load onto a railroad car then assembling a train then offloading at a destination is probably substantially more aggravation/cost than just backing a tractor up, connecting some "wires" and hauling the trailer off for an hour or three trip.

      3. Tony Jarvie

        Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

        Exactly. If only they could invent something even more suitable...like a great big line of linked trailers...that all get pulled along by one main engine....and if it was on tracks then it would be easier to control and people wouldn't need to be as much of a factor when planning routes...

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

          "...like a great big line of linked trailers...that all get pulled along by one main engine...."

          That's called a "road train" and is actually done here and there -- most notably in Australia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_train

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The brown boxy trucks that trundle around your neighborhood

        won't be affected by this YET. Because they will DEFINITELY be affected by a success of this first stage (and the success is guaranteed, the only question is, when exactly does it take off, globally).

    2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

      "How are they planning on getting the parcels out of the truck and actually to the destination?"

      By fitting a trebuchet on the back of the van, allowing parcels to be thrown over the wall as normal.

      1. Fatman
        Thumb Up

        Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

        I gave you a 'thumbs up' for the Trebuchet reference.

      2. a pressbutton

        Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

        I was looking for a reason to post this link

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-49329720

        "A woman said she was left amazed by an "extra special" Amazon delivery after a box of LED bulbs was apparently thrown through an open upstairs window."

      3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: trebuchet on the back of the van, allowing parcels to be thrown over the wall as normal.

        followed by the Amazon text message, "your porcelain tea service has been delivered."

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: trebuchet on the back of the van, allowing parcels to be thrown over the wall as normal.

          Don't you mean 'your 300pc porcelean tea service' has been delivered?

    3. eraiser

      Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

      While this is, for now, aimed at hub to hub transport, Ford were/are developing a bipedal robot that rides in the truck to make actual last-mile deliveries.

      I can't see any of those being mugged as they shuffle along the street with armfuls of little Johny's Christmas presents... no, definitely not.

      All this blase optimism about how great these autonomous systems will perform seems unrealistic to me.

      I guess cynicism is proportional to the square of age...

  2. Martin Summers Silver badge

    We saw the casualties from self driving cars and thought that was bad. Now imagine the smear on the road that these things will make as they trundle over a victim.

    They haven't even got the 'play God' algorithm for self drive cars yet, how the hell would a truck have chance to decide who dies out of a child, elderly person, person with a pram etc etc?

    I love my technology but as I get older I get more cynical and this is one of those occasions where I'd prefer meat behind the wheel now and forever rather than circuits.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      We saw the casualties from self driving cars and thought that was bad. Now imagine the smear on the road that these things will make as they trundle over a victim.
      What's the comparison in terms of crashes, injuries and fatalities per MVKT between regular cars and driverless ones?

      They haven't even got the 'play God' algorithm for self drive cars yet, how the hell would a truck have chance to decide who dies out of a child, elderly person, person with a pram etc etc?
      I guarantee you that's not a calculation that human drivers do in a crash.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >We saw the casualties from self driving cars and thought that was bad.

      737max and MCAS comes to mind.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "We saw the casualties from self driving cars and thought that was bad. Now imagine the smear on the road that these things will make as they trundle over a victim."

      Well, the existing method of road freight in the US has the following statistics:

      - ~5000 accidents per year resulting in fatalities

      - ~500,000 accidents per year resulting in injury

      - 44% of large vehicle accidents involved a driver that was drug or alcohol impaired. Random testing of drivers indicated that 12.5% of large vehicle drivers were drug or alcohol impaired.

      The statistics on drug and alcohol use do not include the effects of tiredness or speeding.

      While self-driving technology is not perfect, the ability to have vehicles that behave in more predictable ways (i.e. maintaining safe speeds, avoiding impaired drivers) has the potential to make roads significantly safer, particularly given the distance many of these vehicles travel each year.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        It might also mean that little kids start being taught to not walk out into traffic again, like we were when we were kids.

        The best thing about this type of automation is that after a first set of stupid parents lose their negligence case against one of these operators, it will be much easier to get rid of the 'watch out for kids' subroutines on long-haul carrier routes, i.e. the Eisenhower Interstate System.

  3. Mephistro Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "...a human operator is still required to take over in emergency situations..."

    It has often been said before, but it's worth repeating:

    The human operator will take over instantly and competently in an emergency after being subject to either several hours of just watching the road ("highway hypnosis" on steroids) or even worse, using his/her smartphone?

    Yeah, like fuck!

    1. Old one

      Re: "...a human operator is still required to take over in emergency situations..."

      During the testing phases just like the Freightliner/MB rigs and a number of others so far.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        Re: "...a human operator is still required to take over in emergency situations..."

        "During the testing phases" ==>"Until all the legal issues regarding insurance and software maker's responsability have been sorted out"==>"Until God knows when"

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: "...a human operator is still required to take over in emergency situations..."

      Wrong issue. The vehicle has to recognize problems soon enough to slow/stop and notify the resident human. The human is there to get the vehicle past whatever situation has arisen -- accident, incomprehensible construction signs, washed out bridge, heavy snow (dust in Arizona), etc,etc,etc.

      You're correct. The notion that human drivers can consistently observe that the vehicle traveling at speed is exhibiting poor judgment and override its poorly considered actions is quite peculiar.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Testing only in Arizona?

    So hopefully they''ll try testing in other places that actually get inclement weather like snow, heavy rain, ice, fog, etc.

    Let's add that this is a long-haul CEO's (add board and stockholders) wetdream. If they don't have to pay drivers, more profit.

    1. Old one

      Re: Testing only in Arizona?

      The real problem has become the lack of people willing to commit to being lifetime "long haul" drivers. Most want to get a couple of years experience and then find local regional work that gets them home nights or at least weekends. The people willing to go out for three plus weeks running freight coast to coast is getting hard to find. Inter-modal moves nice boxed delivery anytime products but time critical, oddball and handling needed loads are becoming harder to broker hence more expensive. People might like to think that trucks can be reduced but in reality we depend more & more on the driver's versatility to get loads where they need to be. Interstate drop point to interstate drop point will give many drivers that local regional access and free long haul drivers to do what they like - travel.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Testing only in Arizona?

        There's nothing preventing a given truck being driven by multiple drivers across the US as is done with train crews. They go back and forth in their region driving one train up for a distance then another back down.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Testing only in Arizona?

        The real problem has become the lack of people willing to commit to being lifetime "long haul" drivers. Most want to get a couple of years experience and then find local regional work that gets them home nights or at least weekends. The people willing to go out for three plus weeks running freight coast to coast is getting hard to find.

        Which without looking into it would I be right in assuming that working conditions are shitty (ie, living out of a truck cab smaller than the average car) with sanitation arrangements that most campers wouldn't put up with for a weekend for in your words "three plus weeks" at a time while probably living off junk food due to being unable to cook other than on a gas stove or from fast food outlets while getting paid a relative pittance for not seeing their wife and family for most of the year?

        I can't imagine why that wouldn't be popular. Especially given that I suspect the pay isin't related to the conditions that the people are expected to live and work in. And now presumably anybody considering long haul as a career is going to be looking at the prospect of their jobs getting automated out of existence, which of course encourages people to throw themselves into this line of work.

    2. I3N
      Boffin

      Re: Testing only in Arizona?

      That route gets heavy rain and dust storms ... LIDAR is for losers ...

    3. Chrissy

      Re: Testing only in Arizona?

      "If they don't have to pay drivers, more profit."

      ....Up to a point:

      Once everyone's job has been automated, no-one needs paying so no-one has any money... no money = no purchasing = no goods to be delivered = no profit...for anyone.

      Collapse of capitalism.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Testing only in Arizona?

        Like when we automated 90%+ of farming?

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: Testing only in Arizona?

          When "we" automated farming, there was a tampon ready to absorb all or most of that excess workforce, namely factory work and infrastructure construction/maintenance. It wasn't exactly a frictionless process, but it worked, sorta.

          This time, with so many jobs being automated simultaneously, there is a good chance that more than 90% of that excess workforce will be unemployed (or severely sub-employed) forever. Which indeed will fuck the world's economy to an extent never seen before, perhaps even to the point of total societal collapse.

          But we can count on our governments to take appropriate measures before this happens, can't we?

          Sigh...

          1. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Testing only in Arizona?

            "It wasn't exactly a frictionless process"

            Thats putting it mildly - in the UK there was a big gap - decades - between automation of agriculture and enough industrialisation of other industries to provide the jobs. And when the jobs did turn up the conditions people worked in were worse than in the fields. The only people who did well out of it at the time were the factory and farm owners. Sure, its created better living condictions for us now, but that would be cold comfort to the multiple generations who suffered 200 years ago.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: Testing only in Arizona?

        We all remember when horse and buggy drivers becoming unwaged collapses the economy.

        1. boltar Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Testing only in Arizona?

          They went on to drive cars and buses because a lot of their skills were transferable, eg route knowledge. Where will the truck drivers go - zero hours contract amazon shelf stacker? Yeah, great news for them and their families. Not.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Testing only in Arizona?

        yes, in the long run and in the grand scale, automation would lead to self-collapse of capitalist cycle and OMG, cause there's no viable alternative. Unfortunately, this... doesn't matter, because we're not dealing with a reasonable, logical species that would think that slow-burning their own house, when it's floating in an inhospitable ocean, with no lifeboat, is, to put it bluntly, a BAD idea. So, in theory, you might think that clever humans, who can visualize the future, consequences, etc, etc. would think about the self-created failure of capitalism and how to prevent this, and would go way further than just "think". And then, the reality bites: you have every one of these fuckers thinking: nah, not my problem! Nah, never gonna happen! Nah, fake news! Nah, they said we'd nuke each other and look - no hands, no nukie, we'll be fine! And, at the same time, individual specimen keep thinking: how can I get rich NOW by applying as much automation, cost optimization, human-factor elimination as I manage, by hook or by crook, and fuck the future of capitalism, I want MORE! NOW!

        And this fine, intelligent, forward-looking approach has served the species very well for quite some time, because the species has been a localized, relatively mild disease. But now it has infested their whole ecosystem and by sheer numbers and resilience to natural controls can, and I'm afraid, will, burn their whole house down. So, who cares about net result of total automation, let's get into the bandwagon before others do it!!!

        p.s. in the meantime, quick-thinking politicians will come up with a solution: AI will save us! Vote for me and I'll make it happen!

  5. Old one

    Just another player in a big field

    Driverless interstate freight hauling will happen. Most likely drop off to drop off located just off the interstates. Current working hours restrictions are causing some issues when a driver gets hung up with either a delivery or pickup and then is stuck for a 10 hr Federal mandatory rest period. Someone picking up a trailer from a local yard and taking another back removes the need for them to push their limits and worry about stopping. Many locations have run out of parking for the number of trucks in a heavily traveled route for them to park while they take the mandatory rest period. Parking in many places is becoming additional expense out of the driver's pocket. Driver's don't control being stuck in traffic jambs or shippers not loading quickly & both are chargeable against their driving hours. Terrible fines can occur if an accident happens when a driver is just a 1/2 mile from his planned rest stop but the road is block by anything out of his control. Driverles is not a cure all but it can help relive the burden of an overloaded system.

    1. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Just another player in a big field

      "Driverles is not a cure all but it can help relive the burden of an overloaded system."

      How exactly? You'll still need a human in the cab for the forseable future so no human driver - no delivery. It'll change nothing other than the money in bank accounts of the C-suite of TuStupidName and its shareholders.

      1. apalamarchuk
        Boffin

        Re: Just another player in a big field

        I assume the human in the cab is needed only during testing/development. The article does not actually say whether the car will be completely driverless during production usage but I assume this is what they are gunning for.

  6. david 12

    Rail

    There's still an active train track between Tucson and Phoenix. If they wanted bulk deliveries between the too locations, they should have sited their warehouse on a train siding.

    1. I3N
      Angel

      Re: Rail

      Goes all the way to LA ... remember once seeing the circus train in the middle of Summer outside Gila Bend ...

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Rail

      I've often thought that a possible solution to long-haul freight is to replace the furthest lanes of motorways with railway tracks and insist that trucks be taken by train to a jumping-off point closer to their final destination. If you can get quickly to electric trucks with basic "follow me" capabilities, you don't even need the railway, you simply couple the trucks into convoys.

      But it's basically the same thing - dedicated infrastructure is going to be a lot easier than trying to get autonomous vehicles to cope with Audi drivers.

  7. I3N
    Coat

    AZ drivers

    follow @whatsuptucson

  8. I3N
    Facepalm

    What's up with UPS?

    UPS buys a stake in an AI company supported by Chinese VCs.

    Maybe UPS should study up on Vector Launch's fate.

    1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: What's up with UPS?

      Just wait till Trump gets wind of this.....make the huawei thing look like a storm in a teacup.....someone just needs to whisper "national security risk" "shipping illegals all over the USA" "MS-13" etc in his ear...

  9. NiceCuppaTea

    I have a better idea, two words. Parcel Cannon

    As above, why not make a Parcel Cannon (TM) instead, probably safer and a lot cooler? Surely with all the AI and weather data we can create a smart bomb like parcel delivery mechanism? Rail gun that shoots amazon packages anyone? With dedicated targets (the local deliery center) that have lasers for targeting. Anything with lasers is instantly cool in my book :-)

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I have a better idea, two words. Parcel Cannon

      Could you imagine how many packing peanuts it will take to keep the mug for your NiceCuppaTea safe from the forces of being ShotOuttaRailgun?

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: I have a better idea, two words. Parcel Cannon

      You mean something like Project Babylon? I remember one of the prototype Martlet 4 projectiles (from the predecessor Project HARP) on display down the hall from my dad's office.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Rail gun that shoots amazon

    Good idea!

    If UPS or anyone else ever gets to the stage where they can automate local delivery drivers, it can't be any worse than the idiots who can't find my house even with GPS coordinates, a streetview snip and me standing outside the gate for an hour. A robot won't think for itself so probably better than a meatsack with semi functional mentation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rail gun that shoots amazon

      Yesterday I watched as a DPD driver stopped on one side of the road, then reversed slowly looking at house numbers, then reversed fast onto the opposite side of the road, going up the kerb and stopping just in time not to hit a streetlight. Too much effort to carry on a few yards and turn round.

      In our street, Google Maps switches to "Welcome home" about half way down our drive.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Rail gun that shoots amazon

      May we could get UPS to program the delivery robot to put packages ALL the way up on the porch and out of the rain, rather than on the very edge of the steps where they get rained (and snowed) on. Sometimes all the way down the yard, on the stone wall by the driveway...

      Knowing UPS, it would probably *still* be beyond their capabilities.

  11. Simon Crowe

    Doomed to failure

    You know why this is doomed to failure, because they have not automated train driving.

    If you think about the problem of automating a train should be a lot simpler

    1. You have a sodding great big hint with the tracks for the automation to work with

    2. You generally(?) are going in one direction (i.e. where the tracks take you)

    Until they have automated trains there is little hope for trucks and cars

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doomed to failure

      They've had automated trains for a while... just off the top of my head, line 1 and a few others in the Paris Metro have been driverless since about 2011. Hong Kong has had level 4 completely automated trains on the South Island line recently and level 2 automated trains for about 20 years I believe... Singapore I believe has the biggest (as in longest) automated train system in the world and they are all at level 3.... if someone wants to google-fu a list I'm sure they can find dozens more examples...

      1. Shez

        Re: Doomed to failure

        DLR in London has been level 4 since it opened in 1987

        1. trolleybus

          Re: another 'Google is Evil' example

          And the Victoria Line in London has had level 3 since 1968.

      2. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Doomed to failure

        Count in the Copenhagen metro

      3. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Re: Doomed to failure

        Driving the trains on the Victoria Line was automated from the start, back in the late 60s. There was (is?) a 'driver' in the cab to open & close the doors and assist the public in an emergency.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automation_of_the_London_Underground

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Doomed to failure

        Don't forget the driverless Stansted Shuttle Train. At least they stopped the horrible announcements.

  12. Jonjonz

    Techno Fools Gold

    Never going to happen in our lifetimes. The day they can design a smart lawnmower that works anywhere with out fences, etc, is the day this becomes feasible.

    1. a pressbutton

      Re: Techno Fools Gold

      https://www.husqvarna.com/us/products/robotic-lawn-mowers/automower-450x/967853005/

      needs buries guide wires - but is GPS enabled

      and

      https://www.ambrogiorobot.com/en-gb/models/view/l60-deluxe

      This one does not need a guide wire

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drinking the coolaid

    A good number of comments seem to echo what Elon Musk is preaching to his cult of Tesla.

    All vehicles will be FSD and owned by a few mega companies. Want to go from A-to-B? Hail a rideshare.

    Tesla's will all revert back to company ownership and they'll be out on the roads 24/7 looking for work. They'll find a charger when needed.

    Utopia!

    Next, he'll be telling his disciples what to wear, eat and everything. The only way is Tesla for the true believers.

    The real world will be a heck of a lot different to that.

    I even forsee (in the USA) a new armed Luddite rebellion starting. Taking away all those jobs will mean less money coming in, less to spend on tat and therefore less need of shipping stuff from Seattle to Miami or from San Diego to Portland (Maine). Vive la Revolution!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reinventing the wheel, uh, rotor

    The US Military has been using autonomous helo-based drones - primarily the K-Max but also Bell 206L Longrangers, Bell 407s and Hughes/Boeing MD6s - to deliver cargo and (allegedly) self-loading cargo of the SpecOps variety to locations around Afghanistan for some years now. If *they* can do it under combat conditions, maybe UPS should be outsourcing their deliveries to Uncle Sam?

    At least then there would be a reasonable explanation for why so many packages seem to have free-fallen from about 5000 ft.

    1. Stork Silver badge

      Re: reinventing the wheel, uh, rotor

      In Afghanistan collateral damage is part of the game. Less so in Arizona (I think)

  15. Sam not the Viking
    Devil

    It's not only me

    Assuming 'autonomous vehicles' were to become common, won't there be a sporting impulse to step-out, walk, cycle or whatever, in front of them?

    Admittedly, Darwinian selection will get involved.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: It's not only me

      The truck will not stop, nor care.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    10-4 good buddy

    Nothing to say the driver can't take a rest break sleeping at the back of the cab, while the truck drives itself for 8 hours through the night.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Driver

    All it'll take one crash or a cargo hijack and they won't be allowed to not have someone on board to monitor the vehicle.

  18. Oneman2Many

    Level 4 does not need human back up while in geo-fenced area. This could be within the confines of a smart motorway for example.

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