Automatic Intelligent Ground Transportation Network
Vision and dreams
This website suggests and supports a vision of automatic intelligent ground transportation net.
The aspiration for this desired dream is derived from many sources dreams and wishes. Many times the process of transport had been so burdensome that we wish we would fall asleep at origin of journey and awake at destination. This wishful dream was combined with the notion of “information highway” – If our car could travel to a destination on a net of roads, with similar effectiveness to the way our E-mail “ride” on the Internet lines, the dream could become true.
A Thread from Past to Future Transportation
The wheel is considered to be one of the greatest technological inventions of mankind. Archeologists estimate that wheeled wagons were used about 7,000 years ago, but it took approximately 50 centuries until the Romans built the wide infrastructure network needed to serve this great invention.
Evidently, the technological invention of the wheel was not sufficient to popularize it and make it a successful transportation tool; political or social ingenuity was required for practical utilization of the wheeled cart. The lengthy period that passed between technological invention and public implementation proves that political or social wisdom is sometimes either rare, or harder to execute than technological wisdom. Only subsequently could we criticize or wonder why it took so long for our forefathers to establish a wide pathway network for the wheeled carts. Could they not have contemplated the vast advantages of mobility? Indeed, domesticated animals satisfactorily served individuals, families, tribes or merchant caravans and provided fair navigability, or accessibility in different kinds of terrain, but would it not have been more efficient and economical to build public roads?
Modern economists define this type of error as “market failure”, jurists or sociologists may call it “moral failure”, and cynics may simply say it is a “political folly”. A situation arises in which individuals appraise their short, narrow, self-interests and society fails to reach an agreement, or fail to build an institution that would promote long-term beneficial interest for society and its members.
This type of failure was repeated after invention of the steam engine. Early in 1769, a young, French, military engineer, Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, apparently built the first automobile and proved the feasibility of steam engine traction. Again, much time passed until public leaders were able to conceive the essential commitment of public involvement needed to organize a scheme that helped to produce the appropriate climate or foundations for maximum use of the engine in the transportation domain.
We did not learn lessons from, and are not immune to the errors of our ancestors. At the end of the 20th century, the most prominent invention was the computer, but this wonderful tool is barely used for transportation purposes. Engineers have proved that computers and communication technologies may revolutionize our transportation by adding automation, intelligence and interaction between routes and cars, but so far they have faced resistance or skepticism, and failed to implement laboratory mockups and theoretical knowledge in the real world.
In search of the ideal transportation solution
There are many existing and theoretical concepts and ideas to satisfy the needs of ground transportation. None of these concepts is absolutely perfect; each of them has its’ advantages that are traded with drawbacks. There are many examples to demonstrate this reality, here are few:
• Legs, in-line skates or bicycles trade environmental friendliness and healthy sport with limitation of power, convenience and efficiency.
• Motorcycle trade speed and fun with compact size and safety.
• Small cars trade parking convenience with small baggage compartment.
• Large cars trade space and amenities with energy consumption.
• Bus trade economy of one driver for many commuters with commuters’ inconvenience.
• There is a trade-off between several transportation solutions and different prices for
each of them, which derived from supply and demand and effect the users’ habits.
There is a trade-off between various transportation schemes. When most people use private spacious vehicles, the individual’s space causes general congestion, or vice versa, when most people use bicycles the individual’s austerity causes general space.
There is no ultimate general transportation solution, but relatively few good ones. It is better to search for the best compromise or the optimal solution rather than the best one. Private cars of today are a dominant transportation means in the western world. They should be condemned, they cause dangers, traffic congestion, and have negative environmental impact. But apparently when weighting out the pros and cons for argument sake they are the least unsound solution for most people who can afford them.
Adding automation and intelligence to transportation
When considering the existing technologies, the addition of two ingredients to the dominant concept of private car – automation and intelligence, can improve transportation scheme much better, or not as bad.
We have become accustomed to trusting the Internet to transfer information quickly and efficiently, while precisely proceeding through a myriad of communication junctions. Therefore, why not transfer actual vehicles on an actual network of routes, with no human drive or escort? Why should we waste peoples time and transportation volume for escorting cargo?
Progress in communication, information and computerized technologies has been most impressive over the last few decades, but unfortunately advancement in transportation technologies is still in the procrastination phase. The level of technology nowadays makes the implementation of the automated intelligent transportation dream feasible. A good many technologists have developed and are still working on means, conceptions and disciplines of automated intelligent ground transportation. Most of them endeavor to combine computer and communication technologies with transportation.
Seemingly, the key feature of automatic intelligent transportation net is precise and real-time interaction between vehicles and a net of ways. This interaction can be achieved more easily when the vehicles are moving on defined guide-ways. The guide-ways may be physical rails – dual-rails or monorails, traceable electronic marks, imbedded transmitters and receptors, traceable painted lines, or radio-communication guides that control the navigation of vehicles.
Railways are simple, old and proved guide-ways, while other guide-ways may have advantages but are less matured, less proved and evidently less precise. Unfortunately most of the existing transportation systems are not adequate enough to travel on railways or other guide-ways.
Many creative solutions are in the making in order to solve this problem. The ideas are varied and interesting. One suggesting is to fit the existing vehicles with an apparatus that will enable them to integrate fully or partly with some kind of guide-ways. Other suggestions are to change the entire or part of the transportation system to a new one, guided by rails. One suggestion is building some kind of virtual railway or electronically guide-way using the existing roads, while other suggestion is painted line as a guide-way followed by vehicles visual tracking.
PRT (- Personal Rapid Transit) is a known comprehensive solution to personal automatic intelligent transit, which may be cast to small cargo shipments. APM (- Automatic People Mover) – is a known automatic solution to personal transportation. Modern trains are moving automatically and intelligently on rails with no need of an active driver.
The car industry and transportation authorities aspire to add facilities that will enable partly or fully automatic driving. ITS (- Intelligent Transportation Systems) – in general meaning comprises different conceptions, such as, Automated Highways, Automated Navigation, Intelligent Public Services, Smart roads and signs, information to commuters and travelers, or Smart Car.
Each one of these solutions has its’ advantages and disadvantages. What is for certain is that a network of automated intelligent ground transportation is not a technical futuristic dream nor a science fiction, but a feasible exigent existing possibility.
Attaching the vehicles and the drivers to a confined network is a drawback relatively to the nowadays cars which enable their drivers the freedom to drive on a paved surface wherever they desire. Nevertheless, the advantages of intelligent network are so substantive that it is evidently worthwhile to trade-off the attachment to the net against full freedom. Furthermore, carrying conventional vehicles by innovative cargo vehicles, or limited amount of multi-mode vehicles that will enable to drive out of the network can satisfy needs of specific demands of those who will ask or need to drive out of the network.
The vision of automated intelligent transportation has old roots. Apparently, the vision did not succeed to materialize not because of mere technological limits, but because of various reasons related to the trade-off in transportation markets, conflicts between past and future technologies, between public and private sectors and between individuals and their neighbors.
We do not contemplate at the problem from a technological point of view, but from a consumer and a lawyer’s point of view. We try to present comprehensive analysis of the problems and to propose some ways to mediate between the various conflicting interests. We assume that automated intelligent ground transportation is feasible and can upgrade the existing transportation scheme. We discuss the questions from cultural, social, commercial, economical, logical, legal, political aspects rather than the technological aspects.
The inhibitions and barriers
Three main triangle heads lead ground transportation:
• Transportation consumers.
• Roadways owners – Most of the roads are public domain, and public authorities represent the owners.
• Transportation industry – Most of this industry is private.
Changing the traditional ground transportation scheme to a full automated and intelligent transportation network is a substantial upgrade of the scheme. Apparently the main problems that are hampering this upgrading to materialize are not technological limits, but cultural, conceptual, social, emotional, political and economical hurdles.
The inhibitions and barriers that are hampering innovative ground transportation systems are complex, diversified and interlaced one into another. Many different interests are entangled in the transportation world, and one factor may ruin a whole scheme or vision. Transportation scheme can be compared to huge clockwork, in which the component are co-dependent and integrated. Interference in this scheme should be done delicately, incrementally, intelligently, and morally.
In an unperfected trial to epitomize the problems it may be said that upgrading ground transportation system is a process of mediation between the anticipation of the past and the fears and prospects of the future.