I, For One, Welcome Our New Self-Driving Overlords


Some of today's prototypes for fully autonomous systems consume two to four kilowatts of electricity -- the equivalent of having 50 to 100 laptops continuously running in the trunk, according to BorgWarner Inc.


They (the proverbial they) can't keep trains with crews, running on rails, from running into each other. Good that with mega fold variables on highways and the crappy roads. Being a lawyer after self-driving cars hit the road will be an enriching experience.

Hahahaha ha ... you know what else is a huge power drain on your electric car efficiency ? Headlights. Heater. Radio. Air Conditioner. Wipers. Power windows ... ahhhh hahahaha ha ha

" ... Your actual range may vary ..."

"Good that with mega fold variables"

Make that "Good luck with mega fold variables"

That power need will drop as the systems improve. Right now consuming power at a rate not much more than a microwave or hair dryer doesn’t seem too bad.

I've read that they need to process about 4 TB of data per hour. That probably won't change much and is probably the main reason for the energy use.

There's not a doubt in my mind that Kate would have been posting articles critical of automobiles around year 1900. "Why use such a costly and dangerous newfangled contraption when we already have efficient and majestic horses?" Absolutely pathetic.

I think the better comparison is to the smart phone -- a mystical device that even a child can operate, for a lifetime, without ever leaving childhood.

Wait, something's getting lost in power-units conversion here. My old Corolla has a 130 HP engine, equivalent to 97 kW. Of course it's not running at full power most of the time (the way I drive, none of the time, most likely). The concern here is drawing 2-4 kW? Does that include actually moving the vehicle, or is that draw just for the sensors & automation systems?

I suppose, given that the current 2018 Ford Focus electric vehicle has just a 35 kWh battery pack.. yeah, it'll go quick.

I'm an electrical engineer and I fully believe this electric-vehicle rage is a total dead-end. The upgrades to the electrical grid that would be required to go full-electric vehicles would be BEYOND astronomical in scope, and we can't even build a stupid pipeline in this country any more, never mind upgrade the entire electrical grid (especially given the grotesque political interference in the operation of the provincial utilities - looking especially at Ontario Hydro but none of them are immune) to supply God-only-knows how much more power to charge all these stupid things.

But stupidity is rank in western society these days, that much is certain. So who knows how far we'll go down this insane road until it blows up in our face. Quite a ways too far, I reckon.

Do other people, other than engineers know how electricity behaves in cold?

In Canadian cold the electric storage freezes, it does not lose the charge, when warmed up it will pick up where it left as it were.

Some smart guy that knows could set me straight on this.

Those that just think they know don't need to apply.

Ha, just last night, I was having a discussion with a neighbour on this exact topic.... after Elon Musk's name came up.

And just how did his name come up, you may ask?

My neighbour had the new Star Trek series playing on his TV and they actually threw out Elon Musk's name as some kind of worshiped hero of historical magnitude. Can you believe that obvious, leftard green-signalling bullshit?

And yes, from primarily minority female actors(I think ALL the bad guys are men), the very first gay character, etc, this newest Star Trek series is so far dripping in political correctness. Oh well, at least they've made it easy to turn my back on the franchise now. Leftards do ruin everything they touch.

As somebody who had worked with several auto and other companies on fuel cell technology -- all this electric car & fuel cell is great for Southern California -- but runs into major problems in the vast majority of Canada

What is a battery -- essentially an electrochemical cell -- The rate of electrochemical reactions doubles for every 10 degree rise in temperature -- thus the opposite is true aka for every 10 degree temperature drop, the rate of electrochemical reactions drops by half -- thus on the Prairies or most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes -- a good cold snap will mean poor to negligible performance thus additional energy will be required to keep the batteries warm. A -30 C old snap would mean forget using the vehicle.

It also means keeping in your car's block heater plugged into a power source even for marginally cold days that would not even been thought about with a regular internal combustion engine car.

True the power consumed for a self-driving car is 2-4 kW, but most electric vehicles are seriously lower power than there ICE counterparts and maybe in the 65-75 kW range thus is taking a bite out of the effective range of the vehicle. Also there is a certain minimum electrical load required to run the vehicle so when the battery is run down (NOT ZERO kWh) it is effectively dead in the water. Just look at a typical voltage or current curve versus battery charge for a battery and/or fuel cell. It drops off.

Also keep in mind, most computer boards have a very narrow acceptable voltage range of operation. Just look at your computers bios that warns you if the +12V, +5V or -12V varies more than 5% and things start to not operate correctly.

something to think about.

Lev- Yes, cold does not necessarily reduce the power available. The power loss comes from warming up the battery itself. In the case of an electric car, left outside in the cold, how much power (range) do you consume warming the car and the batteries up to operating temps? Anyone who owns a car with a small engine in Canada is aware of how much cold weather impacts fuel economy, and how much harder it is to keep windows defrosted and toes warm. This factor is magnified in an electric because there is even that much less waste heat to be captured and used for passenger comfort.
We live in a country where local governments spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to remind us that we should be buying timers for our block heaters, so as to reduce the strain on the electrical grid. These same people are very much on the electric car bandwagon, leading me to conclude that a lot of people have no understanding that these things do need to be plugged in and charged up. EVERY DAY. This is a very real disconnect.
Let's add this to the mix: In a country where Quebec has veto power over most public policy, if the Quebec government has big dreams of selling electricity to the West, instead of New York, from James Bay, but the west doesn't want to buy James Bay power and desires electricity from the Columbia and Peace rivers to power up all the electrics envisioned, will we have the right to say no?

"Anyone who owns a car with a small engine in Canada is aware of how much cold weather impacts fuel economy, and how much harder it is to keep windows defrosted and toes warm. This factor is magnified in an electric because there is even that much less waste heat to be captured and used for passenger comfort."

I might even pity the poor bugger who sets off on an electric-vehicle drive across Saskatchewan at midnight in the middle of January on a windless night. They'll rule him a suicide, after his vehicle only travels about 1/3 of its rated capacity, with him freezing cold for the entire duration, after having stopped at a charging station only to be told there's no power because the solar grid is obviously down and the windmills aren't producing either.

I might, but, chances are, the hippie voted Commie or Liberal (but I repeat myself) and it was coming to him at some point anyway. Better him than me.

Well, I'm an electronic engineer that works on this sort of stuff and I can tell you it's a lot of fun, work and money. May every gadget in the world be full of electronics. However, I don't see any use for this outside of the commute. Maybe long highway drives. It is actually governments that seem most interested.

I can also see trucking companies interest but the difficulty isn't the long highway hauls, but the tight corners, roads and entrance bays each end of the journey, along with obtuse humans on the road.

Just sensors and processing. A car requires around 30kW for cruising and 50kW for acceleration. depending upon aerodynamics, speed and acceleration.

From Fortune magazine http://fortune.com/2016/08/23/tesla-to-sell-100kwh-battery/

The electric car company announced on Tuesday that it would sell a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack for the high end Model S and Model X cars that would increase the distance they could travel on a single charge to 315 miles and 289 miles respectively.

At 30kW this will only get you 3 hours driving, not enough to get to Toronto unless you drop your velocity.

Canada could be filled with "The Stolpa Stories" ...


But they will DIE as BOLD pioneers of a Brave New (e) World ...

You don't see any use? You just listed a ton of uses. This technology will eliminate billions of needless man hours of work a year for our species. The entire shipping industry will be revolutionized. Millions of people will instantly have an extra 2 hours of free time a day instead of being stuck in traffic. Car sharing will become an actual viable option for people who can't afford their own vehicle.

There's a good reason that dozens of successful companies are investing many billions of dollars into this technology, and don't try to tell me that government subsidies even remotely justify the cost. The fact that Kate keeps posting these grasping at straws articles trying to discredit a technology in its infancy just goes to show how deep into the pockets of the oil lobby she's in. At least I hope so, because otherwise it just shows a tragic lack of foresight and irrational fear of change.

oh really andrew. and what is the total death toll from motor vehicle accidents in just n america since they hit the streets? maybe if kate was posting back in the beginning a LOT of citizens would have lived out their lives.


I learned about seat belts at 17 working for me brudder who had a body shop on a secondary highway. he would get the wrecks. so one day I asked why the bulges in the windshield?

dat's where der 'ead hit.


Good point! Why stop there though? Think of how many deaths would have been saved if we'd never discovered stone tools? Literally billions! We'd be a nice peaceful species living in mud huts in Africa, hell it would even have prevented both world wars. What a paradise!

could be there andrew. mebbe, a smidgen of research and a weeee bit more money we could have had safer tools, with insulation, ground wire, guards, whatever whatever.

naturally you choose instead to miss the point I attempt to draw.

let me rephrase it then: let's in future see if there are ways to make the process/mechanism/etc safer so that we do keep the results within that 'range' called economically viable. the traditional tradeoff between costs and benefits. I was NEVER one to trot out the 'if it saves just oooooone [insert target group] it was woooooorth it'.

otoh, if process/mechanism/etc saves many thousands for a modest cost increase, well the benefits include reduced health care costs treating the victims of shoddy stuff. the strategy pays for itself.

Yup, electric vehicles are the shizzle! I'll bet there are a few Muhammadans who can't wait to get some, load them with diesel fuel and fertilizer, and send them to a crowded destination or several at the same time and KABOOM!
Know what I mean? Cheaper than cruise missiles. Yessiree Bob.

That said, the only thing better will be flying cars. I cannot wait. Never a dull moment.

Jesus christ. Yeah let's scrap a society changing technology because a few terrorists might possibly find a way to use it against us to questionable effectiveness. That'll show those terrorists who's boss! We definitely got the better of them there!

It's not even about the self-driving cars anymore; the attitudes here are just frightening. Like do you even consider what you're saying for more than 5 seconds? You seriously need to seek help if you think these opinions are at all beneficial to society in any way.

I can think of one death that could have been prevented if you hadn't been born.

Can you think what you are going to do for a living if "... This technology will eliminate billions of needless man hours of work a year for our species. ..."

I can defeat a sensor with a roll of masking tape.

Yeah it's a little scary, but at least it'll happen slowly over decades. They'll probably start with long haul auto trucks driving to a depot outside the city or something like that. It'll be a while yet before (almost) all driving jobs are eliminated, hopefully long enough for the economy to transition at least slightly smoothly. Again though that's not really a good reason to do anything unless you also think we should go back to weaving clothes by hand because it creates more jobs.

Granted I'm a controls/automation engineer so I'm a little biased.

@Travis - I can defeat brake lines with a pair of scissors, or tires with a kitchen knife. Your point?

Ask yourself this dumbass, "Is it necessary to change society this way?" No, it is not. It is mere convenience for some people.

You see a cellphone and you think it's for peaceful purposes. A Muhammadan sees a cellphone and he sees a niffy trigger for an IED.
Same with a box cutter. You see something to aid opening boxes, the Muhammadan sees a weapon for high-jacking an airplane.

What questions do you have about whether or not an electric vehicle can be used as a bomb platform?
Ask away, dumbass. I'll answer your questions.

I sincerely hope that one day you find the help you need. These thoughts are not rational in any conceivable way.

You're right.
Your thoughts are not rational if you can't see how an electric vehicle can be used as a cruise missile.
What is your IQ, 80 or less?

The popular thing with the millenials down here on the Rock is the head-on collision, to which they seem (fatally) addicted. Of course they will also take out the occasional pedestrian.

Would self-driving cars improve this? Couldn't say - maybe in a few years we will be able to. But it will be hard to prove anything, as the happy colliders eliminate themselves from the Newf race.

And the laws of thermodynamics win again!

Andrew- You're fixating on the wrong thing. No one is really opposed to electric cars, provided it's an evolutionary process. What we're seeing here, and casting aspersions upon, is the concerted attempt by various entities to usurp evolution. Widespread vehicle autonomy is most likely decades in the future. If governments try and speed that process up, it will likely fail. That's the track record of most of what government tries to accomplish. Government initiatives have three potential outcomes, and even chances across the board. Either they fight the (real or imagined) problem to a draw, they make it worse, or they earn a 6-5 victory, in double overtime, but burn out the ice plant in the process. Every time I look, governmental support for self-driving technology is a case of government resources being used to tilt at windmills. Don't get me wrong. Self driving cars have a place, but are at best a niche product for decades to come.
One of the big things that makes no sense is the assertion that self-driving cars will somehow reduce traffic congestion. We laugh at that because it makes no sense to believe that. Take a moment and think about it. How does vehicular autonomy reduce congestion? Some like to claim that it will lead to greater car-pooling. Well, no. Car pooling is actually rather difficult. I've done it, and it's a big enough PITA that you eventually just drop out. Even with two of us, between the kinds of small commitments and necessary diversions that pop up, it's usually harder than just driving yourself. So, even with self-driving cars, no more people will car pool in the future than today.
The problems with electrics are well documented. Cost, complexity, range, charging/grid issues, long term reliability, etc., are all real issues. Again, what you see from this audience is well-earned derision toward people who have little to no technical understanding of the multiple issues electrics present, using the hand of government to steer the public towards widespread adoption of a product that may well be a technological leap backwards, thus creating an even greater set of cascading problems that need to be overcome.
As the article linked demonstrates, government regulators far too often work at cross-purposes to each other. Safety regulators demand non-evolutionary changes that add weight, complexity, and cost. Emissions regulators make demands that add complexity and cost. At the same time they often close paths to greater fuel economy, while the fuel economy regulators simply demand that cars which are, by law, heavier and not as fuel efficient as they could be, get better fuel economy.
The result of all that is unnecessary costs being passed on to the consumer. Multiple airbags now mean that reasonably good cars that are involved in minor collisions with little damage are still totaled. That results in higher insurance costs. Many new cars are equipped with LED headlamps that run $1000 or more per assembly. Why? Because the very small incremental reduction in weight and power draw, measured accumulatively across half a million units, actually saves a substantial amount of gasoline. But, you'll never live long enough to save $2000 in gas because your car has LED headlamps. The odds are very much against an airbag ever saving your life. But, you're paying a very real cost to have your car chock-a-block full of them, both in the cost of the car and in your insurance costs.
Now, if you had been given a choice in that matter, you may have chosen that way instead. However, we weren't actually given those choices. (Liberals are big on choice, except when people don't want to make the exact same choices.) Right now, we're seeing a great deal of effort across many governmental lines to get people to not choose IC cars over electrics, in spite of very real evidence that electrics, and autonomous, are not quite ready for prime time. This, from people who rarely get anything right.
Gee. What could go wrong?

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Recent Comments

  • Bill Greenwood: Andrew- You're fixating on the wrong thing. No one is read more
  • Taliesyn: And the laws of thermodynamics win again! read more
  • John Lewis: The popular thing with the millenials down here on the read more
  • Oz: You're right. Your thoughts are not rational if you can't read more
  • Andrew: I sincerely hope that one day you find the help read more
  • Oz: Ask yourself this dumbass, "Is it necessary to change society read more
  • Andrew: Yeah it's a little scary, but at least it'll happen read more
  • Travis: I can defeat a sensor with a roll of masking read more
  • TheTooner: I can think of one death that could have been read more
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