Author Topic: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars  (Read 15710 times)

Apple_Tango

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The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« on: December 08, 2017, 09:42:29 AM »
A post in another forum got me thinking about self driving cars. And all of you engineers are smarter than me..heck maybe some of you actually work in this field! So let's talk about the future. What will a future with self-driving cars look like? Here are my thoughts and questions.

1) Some people's commutes are currently pure hell due to gridlock and road rage. Theoretically this will cut down on the number of cars on the road and make commutes more smooth, and people can play sudoku or do their reports during their commute, thus increasing free time at home and lowering stress.
     1a)But will the drop in frustration in a morning commute encourage more people to live farther away from city centers, thus increasing the number of commuters instead of forcing people to live close and walk/bike/train?

2) I'm assuming they will all eventually be electric vehicles. But something still has to make the electricity, and as of today it is usually natural gas and coal. Will we be seeing massive solar grids in the future to power the electric vehicle fleet?

3) The volume of cars. The main 3 times for high volume traffic is 7:30 am, 5:00 pm, and holiday commutes. But that got me thinking of the logistics. Where will all of those cars be during the other times? The volume of cars that are not always needed, but need to exist for the high traffic times will be substantial...but I guess it would be way less than it is at current time since most households currently own 2-3 cars that are almost never used.

4) My other thought is this: There are two systems. A city owned system which is similar to the current bus/taxi system. And a private system where one person owns the vehicle. When they are not using it they can send it off for other people to use. The owner is the one who maintains the car and collects the fare, due to wear and tear on the car. And similar to uber, the owner can jack up prices during high traffic times. If the owner choses to carpool on the way to work, they get to use fast lanes just like now. So it really would be a similar carpool/slug system to now, the only difference is that no one drives it, and the owner can make money as a side hustle by sending it away when it's not being used.

5) The cost. I'm assuming it will be like a taxi- the more you use the service, the more you pay. And if you realize it will benefit you more to be a private owner, you will do that.

6) But then that still leaves me wondering if the physical amount of cars will decrease. I can see people wanting to buy a car just for the side hustle income, and the knowledge that in an emergency you will have a guaranteed car for yourself. Maybe if you send it away, you can specifiy a maximum travel distance, or a travel time period when it needs to return to you.

7) Cities vs. Rural areas. This whole program will likely be slower to roll out in rural areas just because there is not a huge volume of customers. Less owners are likely to buy vehicles, because less customers will likely demand taxi rides and the current demands of gridlock aren't an issue so there is less pressure to change.

8) Parking lots. Will they still be needed or will they be converted into other things? What is your vision for parking lots and garages?

dougules

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2017, 01:09:44 PM »
1) I don't think it will cut down much on the cars on the road.  Lone car commuters are lone car commuters whether they drive or the car does.  The one thing that might cut down on number of cars is a smart network of automated shared taxis that can plan out optimal routes and take carpooling to the next level. 

1a)  I never thought about it but it's a pretty good point.  Increases in capability and efficiency just lead to an increase in consumption a lot of times.  It may end up that that makes automated cars a negative.  You can let the car "drive 'til you qualify" for you. 

2) Going automated and going electric are two independent subjects.  One doesn't really have all that much effect on the other.  And whether gas or electric, automated or manual, cars are using enormous amounts of energy just to transport one human body. 

3) Rush hour will still take essentially the same number of cars if people still want a car to themselves.  The cars will just end up in parking lots the same as they do right now.  On the plus side a lot of redundant parking spaces could be eliminated since you could just have general lots for a given area that the cars could take themselves to.

4) Some people will have their own cars as a symbol of independence, but I think anybody that's willing to share would just take automated taxis.  Big companies would have economies of scale that would way underprice the little guy.  Right now Lyft and Uber drivers are more about hiring out their time/labor as drivers than renting out their cars.  Those companies will toss the little guys aside as soon as automated vehicles really become common. 

5) I can't imagine it would be cheaper unless you drive all the time.  It is true that a lot of people don't know how to do the math behind the true total cost of driving, though.  They may end up offering a monthly/yearly subscription sort of like a transit pass. 

6) Probably, but total miles/kms traveled will probably increase.

7) People in really remote areas probably would keep their own cars, but a lot of places that we think of as very rural still have a population density that would probably support it. 

8) We probably wouldn't need as much, but unfortunately I think a lot of existing parking lots would just sit empty and useless like they already do at so many dead malls. 

The big thing that completely gets lost is that automated cars don't do anything to solve the basic problems of car-focused transportation.  We still have sprawl, sedentary lifestyles, environmental degredation, way too much asphalt, increased energy consumption, overspending on transportation, and greater segregation. 

Yankuba

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 01:14:41 PM »
I want to know what people are supposed to do with their purchases if they want to go to multiple stores in an afternoon. Most people put their stuff in their trunk and drive from store to store. But if you're taking a different automated vehicle from store to store then you have to take all your stuff with you as you shop which would be a pain. Especially if you're buying heavy goods like dog food.

In other words, let's say I want to go to Home Depot for some items and then the supermarket. What happens to my Home Depot purchases while I go to the supermarket?
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 01:16:16 PM by Yankuba »

dougules

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 01:19:22 PM »
I want to know what people are supposed to do with their purchases if they want to go to multiple stores in an afternoon. Most people put their stuff in their trunk and drive from store to store. But if you're taking a different automated vehicle from store to store then you have to take all your stuff with you as you shop which would be a pain. Especially if you're buying heavy goods like dog food.

In other words, let's say I want to go to Home Depot for some items and then the supermarket. What happens to my Home Depot purchases while I go to the supermarket?

I don't think that would be a major issue.  You would probably just be able to pay to keep the same car for the whole trip. 

koshtra

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 01:21:15 PM »
Self-driving buses and trains, on the other hand, will cut mass transit costs in half (about half the present cost goes to labor, currently.) Which drastically changes the balance of the mass transit equations everywhere.

Sheer geometry limits how many single-person vehicles you can cram into any travel space: I think the idea that self-driving cars are going to change traffic much for the better are off-target. But when you can run at twice the frequency for the current cost, you'll get at least twice the ridership (since what people hate most is waiting) and you'll be able to increase frequency even more -- it's in mass transit that we'll actually see the most benefit. (And those benefits will be huge, if we're ready to take advantage of them.)

koshtra

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2017, 01:29:59 PM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

Yankuba

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2017, 01:32:36 PM »
I want to know what people are supposed to do with their purchases if they want to go to multiple stores in an afternoon. Most people put their stuff in their trunk and drive from store to store. But if you're taking a different automated vehicle from store to store then you have to take all your stuff with you as you shop which would be a pain. Especially if you're buying heavy goods like dog food.

In other words, let's say I want to go to Home Depot for some items and then the supermarket. What happens to my Home Depot purchases while I go to the supermarket?

I don't think that would be a major issue.  You would probably just be able to pay to keep the same car for the whole trip.

One of the big advantages to everyone using autonomous cars via an Uber interface is that we will need fewer cars because they will be in service ~70% of the time versus the ~5% of the time they are in use now. If you can book the same car for an afternoon of shopping then we will have a lot of down time and we will need a lot of cars on the road. Plus, we will need the big parking lots that autonomous vehicles via an Uber platform are supposed to replace.

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2017, 01:58:45 PM »
Yeah....eventually we will stop doing our shopping.   Groceries, dog food and home depot will come to you.   

DUIs will be a thing of the past as well as most traffic accidents.    Good times ahead!   I love it
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 02:03:52 PM by surfhb »

FINate

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2017, 02:34:05 PM »
I worked at Google before FIRE, but not on autonomous vehicles (AV), I have no inside info. This is my own opinion.

Like other transformative technology revolutions, autonomous vehicles will change our world in unexpected ways that will seem obvious in hindsight. Few people expected the internet would clobber cable, yet it seems obvious now.

The change will happen much faster than most people expect. The companies working on this are ironing out various issues, but much of the problem is already solved. Once the entire package is working it will deploy rather quickly - just a matter of copying software (zero cost) and installing the hardware (can be done production line). We are hearing about it now but it seems far off, then suddenly there will be driverless car options on the road.

Most people will not own an AV. Large ridesharing companies will maintain fleets of electric AVs, which will be much lower cost to operate than manned ICE vehicles. Competition will ensure these cost savings are passed on to the consumer. The AV manufacturer will assume liability and insurance...I don't see how they can avoid this because their software is effectively the "driver." This will decimate auto insurance companies.

The most dramatic change will be large numbers of families going from 2 cars to 1. The one car will be used for errands, road trips, etc. but will incrementally spend more and more time parked in the driveway. More and more commuters will pool AVs to work - algorithms already exist for batching rides based on time, starting location and ending location. This will greatly reduce costs and allow the AV to use HOV lanes. This will decimate automakers, effectively cutting their market in half or worse -- the single vehicle people own will get less use, hence last much longer.

Congestion will be reduced. Partially because more people will carpool in AVs. Moreso because AVs will be able to communicate with each other in real-time, which means they can broadcast their intentions/actions to surrounding AVs. This will enable AVs to safely link up in virtual "trains" of tightly packed cars - reducing drag and increasing the effective capacity of highways. This will also reduce or eliminate pulsing of congested traffic we see with human drives. This, along with greatly reduced costs (from above) are going to decimate some mass transit systems, especially light rail. Rail in very dense metros will be fine (e.g. NYC) but those in lower density areas (suburbs, sprawling cities) will have a hard time surviving. Bus routes will survive with automated EV busses.

Auto related deaths/injuries will drop rapidly as highway miles driven migrate to AVs. This will decimate personal injury lawyers, but be great for the ~30k people who would otherwise have died in any given year in the US. Life will be much much safer for pedestrians and bikers. Computers don't get fatigued, distracted, enraged, impatient, and 360 degree field of vision (LIDAR and other sensors) means AVs will have no blind spots and be much safer for everyone.

Some security researchers will make a name for themselves finding vulnerabilities in AV software, showing how a hacker could take over or cause a crash. The media will have a field day with the hysteria. These holes will be patched and little will come of it. But expect people to be fixated on the dangers of AVs (because they are new) while ignoring the tens of thousands of people that die because of human driver error. Eventually stats will emerge that driverless cars are much much safer than traditional cars. Anyone remember when people used to be afraid to use their CC online because hackers might steal it? Yeah, no one really worries about this stuff anymore. Same will happen with AVs.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 02:40:04 PM by FINate »

MayDay

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2017, 11:21:38 AM »
I the two main points bthat I think people frequently miss (and which FINate mentioned) are:

2 car families will probably own one car and ride share the rest.

And you will see more carpooling in autonomous vehicles. In fact I wonder if buses will die completely because of that- if you can group 4 people in a sedan that picks you right up,it might be considerably more efficient for a similar price compared to a bus. Maybe buseswill still be useful for peak commuting routes at rush hour but often they are 1/3 full.

BlueMR2

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2017, 11:25:34 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

With stores already picking things and having them setup for you when you show up at the store, that's just a short step to make to have them load a self-driving delivery vehicle too.  Beats the classic online ordering experience of having to wait anywhere from a day to a week.  Allows for easy delivery of fresh items.

As far as the work travel congestion, I expect companies to embrace work from home more.  It's a competitive disadvantage to have to own and maintain office space for people that simply do not need to be in an office.  As competition continues to get more fierce and the need to drive costs down increases I think there will just be a lot less people that need to travel daily.

koshtra

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2017, 11:28:44 AM »
I think driverless, shared rides will break down a lot of Americans' silly resistance to public transit, and the cheapness of self-driving vehicles will cause the reasonableness of buses and trains to become more apparent. You'll just walk down to the corner and catch the bus, for most purposes; if you're in a weird out-of-the-way place you'll call up a more expensive ride to get to the mass transit network. Connections will happen in a couple minutes, no one will expect to own their ride (or want to) and the high-speed parts of the trips will happen at 200 mph or so (in dedicated lanes or on tracks.)

That, of course, is if we build the infrastructure and do it right.

BlueMR2

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 11:36:28 AM »
That, of course, is if we build the infrastructure and do it right.

Yeah, that's key.  Currently public transportation is useless to me.  Buses only run from where I'm not to where I don't want to go.  Would love to use the train for some of our trips, but it only runs at ungodly inconvenient hours and goes to a station nowhere near me in a dangerous part of town.  Got a trip we take regularly that I'd love to take the train, but driving downtown at 2 am and walking a couple blocks to the train station from the parking garage, no thank you.  I chose life!

Johnez

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2017, 12:05:36 PM »
Regarding fleets of autonomous cars replacing individually owned cars, I'm not sure this will happen any time soon. The tech can make it happen, but our lives will have to bend a great bit.

Consider Uber-getting a ride is easy enough after a night out, going to the airport, or anything casual. Now try every day use-Do you have a baby (and required car seat?), do you have kids with equipment  for practice, do you have any reason to leave stuff in  your car for convenience, do you get groceries after work, do you run multiple errands in a day, do you leave your house at precisely the right time to hop in your car and make it to work with everything you need, do you *like* having your own car with your music, comforts, etc?

Now, this is a mustachian board with a can do attitude that can make this all happen with a cheap enough ride share scheme. However-what about your neighbor? Or anyone else already driving a 4 wheel 4 seat 2000 lb piece of steel 40 miles one way to work? They prefer the convenience over the logic of mustachianism already, so how's that going to change?

FINate

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2017, 01:37:30 PM »
Now, this is a mustachian board with a can do attitude that can make this all happen with a cheap enough ride share scheme. However-what about your neighbor? Or anyone else already driving a 4 wheel 4 seat 2000 lb piece of steel 40 miles one way to work? They prefer the convenience over the logic of mustachianism already, so how's that going to change?

Cost savings + time savings + convenience.

Let's say you live in a suburb and work downtown. There's no practical mass transit for your commute (perhaps a bus, but it takes forever). Now imaging you can sign up for an AV commute with frequent service (say every 30 min). The vehicles seat 6 people, with tables, power, wifi. The AV algorithm picks up a people in/near your neighborhood, then drops off downtown, door to door more or less. You can get work done while underway, and because there are multiple people in the vehicle you can make use of the HOV lanes so it's faster than driving solo. All this for less (half perhaps?) of what it costs to own and operate a personal vehicle. I think these are pretty strong incentives.

Noodle

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2017, 02:26:42 PM »
I love thinking about this.

I think the only definite prediction we can make is that driverless cars are going to change the world in ways we can't even predict, because it is such a huge paradigm shift--the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Witness: The "stuff question" is one I hadn't even thought of. I bring everything inside other than a couple coolers I keep in my trunk, because I live in a city where it's not a good idea to leave anything in your car. But of course lots of people don't operate that way. Maybe there will be some kind of special lockers developed to easily transfer your stuff from car to car.

I think there will be great use of "fleet cars." Aside from the cost, one of the reasons I am not crazy about Uber etc is that I don't like getting in a vehicle with someone I don't know, which will be eliminated with the driver. I also think there will be ripple effects from the pricing. For instance, if the general practice turns out to be per ride pricing, maybe transit will be more popular (especially if the cost savings of automation mean more transit available.) Driverless cars could also integrate in transit in neat ways--for instance, take you to whichever transit stop means the shortest wait. In my city, a big part of the problem with getting people to adopt transit is that the weather is very difficult much of the year and people don't want to be hanging around transit stops for 20 minutes. If my auto-car could drop me off at a transit stop knowing the bus is two minutes away, I'd be more likely to take it!

On the other hand, I don't think "fleet cars" will ever be the solution for everyone. There is just too much prestige associated with having a nice car.

maizeman

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2017, 03:41:00 PM »
Sheer geometry limits how many single-person vehicles you can cram into any travel space: I think the idea that self-driving cars are going to change traffic much for the better are off-target. But when you can run at twice the frequency for the current cost, you'll get at least twice the ridership (since what people hate most is waiting) and you'll be able to increase frequency even more -- it's in mass transit that we'll actually see the most benefit. (And those benefits will be huge, if we're ready to take advantage of them.)

You post made my think about this great illustration of the geometry problem with trying to replace mass transit with cars, whether they are driven by the passengers, by a taxi/uber driver, or through artificial intelligence.

Behind a spoiler tag because animated gifs are annoying in the thread of discussions.

Spoiler: show



Just Joe

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2017, 02:39:17 PM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

Isn't that called delivered groceries? Or Amazon?

I see the just-in-time driveless vehicles to lead to higher costs rather than lower costs. Everything leading to convenience leads to extra costs in the USA.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 02:44:02 PM by Just Joe »

seattlecyclone

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2017, 07:03:01 PM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

Isn't that called delivered groceries? Or Amazon?

I see the just-in-time driveless vehicles to lead to higher costs rather than lower costs. Everything leading to convenience leads to extra costs in the USA.

You have a point there. Under the new on-demand driverless car scheme, the company will be responsible for paying people to do certain basic maintenance tasks that many car owners do themselves "for free": putting air in tires, replacing windshield wipers, cleaning the interior, that sort of thing.

However, I think these things could easily be outweighed by the savings inherent in not needing to pay all the fixed costs of owning a whole car: registration, insurance, and the capital sunk into the car itself. These costs will instead be split across all the different people using that car throughout the day.

As a father of a toddler, I recognize how much of a hassle it is to install and remove car seats. Making people remove car seats at their destination and carry them around seems to be a complete non-starter. I'd imagine one of two things happens here to make on-demand vehicles appealing to parents: either some fraction of cars has child safety seats permanently installed, or we get to a point where crashes in these vehicles are so rare that we stop using special seats entirely.

Just Joe

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2017, 08:14:14 PM »
Cars could evolve so that the backseat is convertible from adult seating to built in baby seats.

Barbaebigode

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2017, 03:53:17 AM »
Perhaps one consequence of self driving cars will be the emergence of smaller cars. If a fleet owner notices that a large part of the rides are made with one person in the car with no luggage, than why own an entire fleet of cars that can carry 5 people + luggage? Seems like a waste of resources, energy and road space. There's probably a "sweet spot" percentage of one or two-seat cars in a fleet that won't compromise availability to users while saving money to the fleet's owner.

lemonlyman

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2017, 06:36:25 AM »
I think most people will stop owning cars. The costs will just be too high in comparison to using these fleet services. With no driver, the cost to ride in these will be negligible. <10c per mile for energy, only tires and cleaning for maintenance, the ability to do hundreds of miles per day so production is insanely high per car. Compared to the cost of owning a car, even after it's paid off, it'll just make no sense to own.

radram

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2017, 08:05:46 AM »
I've been thinking about this as well.

OP, was this what got you thinking about it?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0

This is a 1 hour video that focuses on technologies that disrupt how people live. Please chime in if you were the first to post this.

I thought it was life changing to even think about what he was talking about.

I started another thread to discuss buying stocks to benefit from his research:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/investments-in-energy-and-transportation/

Have a great day all!

dougules

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2017, 10:44:39 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

If you're just autonomously transporting small packages there's no need for a full-size car.  I wonder if we'll eventually get fleets of tiny little cars just to transport smaller goods. 

the_grillman

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2017, 07:12:12 PM »
...you engineers are smarter than me..heck maybe some of you actually work in this field!

With this coming close (not sure about the smarter part), I'll briefly try and make something clear that no one has really touched on yet.  It's not really the engineers that are going to shape this but rather society.  What I mean is that as engineers we can design it to be whatever people (ourselves included) dream up.  The issue is that this doesn't shape what self-driving cars will become.  That is up to society and more specifically two key components: law/regulations & economics. 

Let me make up an example which illustrates both in one go.  Let's say that the law/regulation at a Federal/National level says that each time you enter a self-driving car it has to announce the probability of a crash, while a regular car doesn't.  Figure anyone is going to buy/get into one?  If no one if buying them or willing to use one then self-driving cars won't be brought to market. 
Now say a municipality decides to ban regular cars on their roads and force the use of self-driving cars.  Now there is a market, but maybe only for vehicles that travel locally (no long trips so they'd be designed with this in mind).  This municipality decides that this will reduce the number of cars so parking lot size requirements are dramatically reduced and developers stop building them (saves $) and garages.  Now the self-driving cars have nowhere to park, do they just drive around or are parking/maintenance lots created on the outskirts of the city?  Will people accept this?

Now imagine all of the variations on this.  I think it comes down to what will the laws be, will people accept self-driving cars (or what features will they accept), and are they profitable?  Thus while very interesting, I think it is much more a question that should be directed towards the fields of Sociology & Law rather than Engineering.

seattlecyclone

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2017, 08:05:40 PM »
This municipality decides that this will reduce the number of cars so parking lot size requirements are dramatically reduced and developers stop building them (saves $) and garages.  Now the self-driving cars have nowhere to park, do they just drive around or are parking/maintenance lots created on the outskirts of the city?  Will people accept this?

I see a potential elimination of required parking as an unmitigated good that could be enabled by this technology. We use a rather appalling fraction of our land for parking lots. If we replaced them with buildings this would be a major boon for walkability and affordability in our cities.

When you spend a bit of time thinking of the implications of a fleet of on-demand self-driving cars, I think you can realize that dedicated parking lots become mostly unnecessary in this scenario. See, the total number of cars in circulation would be roughly equivalent to what the road network can hold at rush hour. During the peak hours every road lane would be occupied with moving cars. During off-peak times, many of the cars would be sitting idle, and you don't need as many road lanes to accommodate the traffic demand at that time. Certain road lanes could dynamically convert from travel lanes to parking lanes and back as needed. When you only have enough cars to fit them all on the road at once, you don't need to devote much off-road space for car storage. You just vary the percentage of the road that you use for moving cars vs. stationary cars.

Noodle

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2017, 06:34:51 AM »
Returning to the delivery question--I think delivery will still involve humans for a long time, because someone has to wrangle the package off the vehicle and into the house. That's one reason I buy a lot online--I live in a second-floor walkup and I want UPS to wrestle that giant box up the stairs for me. But I bet it would be cheaper to operate UPS if you didn't have to find people capable of driving the trucks.

Another way it might change daily life--transporting kids. Some people already use Uber to get their kids to activities, apparently. If you could load your kids into an auto-car and send them off to baseball or Scouts, or school, that would significantly simplify the lives of a lot of people I know. But then how does that intersect with the current protectiveness about children? I bet there would have to be laws passed about what age a child could be alone in a car, etc.

radram

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2017, 06:43:15 AM »
...you engineers are smarter than me..heck maybe some of you actually work in this field!

With this coming close (not sure about the smarter part), I'll briefly try and make something clear that no one has really touched on yet.  It's not really the engineers that are going to shape this but rather society.  What I mean is that as engineers we can design it to be whatever people (ourselves included) dream up.  The issue is that this doesn't shape what self-driving cars will become.  That is up to society and more specifically two key components: law/regulations & economics. 

Let me make up an example which illustrates both in one go.  Let's say that the law/regulation at a Federal/National level says that each time you enter a self-driving car it has to announce the probability of a crash, while a regular car doesn't.  Figure anyone is going to buy/get into one?  If no one if buying them or willing to use one then self-driving cars won't be brought to market. 
Now say a municipality decides to ban regular cars on their roads and force the use of self-driving cars.  Now there is a market, but maybe only for vehicles that travel locally (no long trips so they'd be designed with this in mind).  This municipality decides that this will reduce the number of cars so parking lot size requirements are dramatically reduced and developers stop building them (saves $) and garages.  Now the self-driving cars have nowhere to park, do they just drive around or are parking/maintenance lots created on the outskirts of the city?  Will people accept this?

Now imagine all of the variations on this.  I think it comes down to what will the laws be, will people accept self-driving cars (or what features will they accept), and are they profitable?  Thus while very interesting, I think it is much more a question that should be directed towards the fields of Sociology & Law rather than Engineering.
I definitely think economics alone will solve the parking issue. Parking your car for the day in Chicago is what, $50? It could just drive home and recharge for 50x less money. Heck, it could drive around the city doing NOTHING for about a buck. Who in the world would pay that kind of money just to let it sit. Of course, I think that now but people still do :)

Yankuba

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2017, 07:41:55 AM »
Returning to the delivery question--I think delivery will still involve humans for a long time, because someone has to wrangle the package off the vehicle and into the house. That's one reason I buy a lot online--I live in a second-floor walkup and I want UPS to wrestle that giant box up the stairs for me. But I bet it would be cheaper to operate UPS if you didn't have to find people capable of driving the trucks.

Another way it might change daily life--transporting kids. Some people already use Uber to get their kids to activities, apparently. If you could load your kids into an auto-car and send them off to baseball or Scouts, or school, that would significantly simplify the lives of a lot of people I know. But then how does that intersect with the current protectiveness about children? I bet there would have to be laws passed about what age a child could be alone in a car, etc.

In most cities, a rider must be at least 18 years of age to have an Uber account and request rides. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone 18 years of age or older on any ride.

kendallf

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2017, 07:53:00 AM »
I think this is like predicting the direction of the internet in 1965.  No clue, but fun to speculate.  :-)

Several people brought up the "sequential stops while lugging packages" problem.  My bet is a bunch of people are thinking about that now.  Simplest fix has already been mentioned: keep the same car until your multiple stops are done.  If you're stopping for a long time (going to work with something you want to use after work, for example), you could have locked compartments in the car and have it eventually come back to you at a specified time/location, so you can retrieve your goods.  Maybe that's unwieldy and we just have lots more storage at businesses and offices as "car storage" becomes less prevalent and people lug stuff in with them.

On the car pooling/mass transit problem, I think AVs could significantly increase ridership.  Most people's objections these options boil down to convenience: they don't want to wait for other people, they don't want to walk and wait between multiple modes of transit.  With an Uber style carpool, the car comes and picks you up, you don't have to plan to meet other people or wait on them, the car just stops.  You don't have to park and walk long distances when switching to bus or train, you're dropped off at the terminal entrance.

GuitarStv

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2017, 09:16:56 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

With stores already picking things and having them setup for you when you show up at the store, that's just a short step to make to have them load a self-driving delivery vehicle too.  Beats the classic online ordering experience of having to wait anywhere from a day to a week.  Allows for easy delivery of fresh items.

I think that this self-driving delivery vehicle phenomenon will massively increase congestion on our roads at all times of day.

Let's say you want to get some clothes from the mall, get some medicine from the vet's office, get a pizza for dinner.  Rather than one person making three stops as we do now, in the future you can have three separate vehicles bring all your stuff to your home!

Now scale this up to uses over a large city.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2017, 09:27:20 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

With stores already picking things and having them setup for you when you show up at the store, that's just a short step to make to have them load a self-driving delivery vehicle too.  Beats the classic online ordering experience of having to wait anywhere from a day to a week.  Allows for easy delivery of fresh items.

I think that this self-driving delivery vehicle phenomenon will massively increase congestion on our roads at all times of day.

Let's say you want to get some clothes from the mall, get some medicine from the vet's office, get a pizza for dinner.  Rather than one person making three stops as we do now, in the future you can have three separate vehicles bring all your stuff to your home!

Now scale this up to uses over a large city.

Reducing the cost of driving definitely suggests a lot more driving, not less.

surfhb

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2017, 09:28:36 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

With stores already picking things and having them setup for you when you show up at the store, that's just a short step to make to have them load a self-driving delivery vehicle too.  Beats the classic online ordering experience of having to wait anywhere from a day to a week.  Allows for easy delivery of fresh items.

I think that this self-driving delivery vehicle phenomenon will massively increase congestion on our roads at all times of day.

Let's say you want to get some clothes from the mall, get some medicine from the vet's office, get a pizza for dinner.  Rather than one person making three stops as we do now, in the future you can have three separate vehicles bring all your stuff to your home!

Now scale this up to uses over a large city.

Dont forget drone technology.     Already happening is many places in the world....just a matter of time

PoutineLover

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2017, 09:46:15 AM »
Air taxis might be a thing soon too, check out airbus a3. The future is coming!

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2017, 11:05:16 AM »
PTF

AlanStache

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2017, 11:09:19 AM »
GuitarStv: You are assuming all errands would be run at the same time rather than when the person got around making the order.  Also the number of total miles driven would not necessarily go up or down, (now it is Point A-> B-> C-> D-> A, but with AV it might be, B->A; C->A and D->A or some combination). 

Air drone delivery: In generic suburbia-dont hold your breath.  There are a lot of problems with this - some physics based, some regulation based, some weather based, some engineering based, some economics based.  It might work well for rural delivery or in some specific locations (Bay Area).  But basically drone delivery has a lot of medium to hardish problems where building a locker into a self driving SmartCar is easy.

Flying taxis: No.  Again maybe in some specific places and times but not for mass use.  Vertical take off is loud.  Turbulence in small aircraft is vomit inducing and you get way larger effects of turbulence in smaller vehicles; think of the bumpiest ride you have ever had on an airliner but you are also fairly low to the ground. 

For AV delivery, if traffic is a problem the local city can always tax it per mile during rush hours to shift it to less busy times of day. 

dougules

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2017, 11:12:17 AM »
Air taxis might be a thing soon too, check out airbus a3. The future is coming!

Air taxis have been a thing in São Paulo for years now. 

Cars are wasteful enough.  The last thing we need is everybody flying everywhere when what we really need is better efficiency. 

PoutineLover

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2017, 11:24:53 AM »
Air taxis might be a thing soon too, check out airbus a3. The future is coming!

Air taxis have been a thing in São Paulo for years now. 

Cars are wasteful enough.  The last thing we need is everybody flying everywhere when what we really need is better efficiency. 
The air taxis I'm talking about would be electric, and autonomous.
https://www.airbus-sv.com/projects/1
Definitely potential to reduce commute times and traffic, if implemented properly.

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2017, 11:52:21 AM »
Drone technology seems like absurd overkill for commuting and package delivery, to me. My speculation tends more to an "internet of freight," where boxes of stuff know their destination and are just smart enough to hop off one train or conveyor belt and drive or waddle over to another.

seattlecyclone

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #39 on: December 12, 2017, 11:55:03 AM »
Another fun thing to think about is errands that run themselves. Why transport the person all the hell over the place when what you want to transport is the goods?

With stores already picking things and having them setup for you when you show up at the store, that's just a short step to make to have them load a self-driving delivery vehicle too.  Beats the classic online ordering experience of having to wait anywhere from a day to a week.  Allows for easy delivery of fresh items.

I think that this self-driving delivery vehicle phenomenon will massively increase congestion on our roads at all times of day.

Let's say you want to get some clothes from the mall, get some medicine from the vet's office, get a pizza for dinner.  Rather than one person making three stops as we do now, in the future you can have three separate vehicles bring all your stuff to your home!

Now scale this up to uses over a large city.

If those three vehicles each are delivering things to you and at least two other people in your neighborhood, it comes out to a wash traffic-wise compared to each individual getting three things in their own cars.

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2017, 12:14:03 PM »
I don't think anything will change dramatically.  So let's say you work in a workplace with 2000 other  people. Like an hospital or some development campus or production factory. What does it happen when 5pm comes, where do 2000 people go and wait for a car to drive them? Instead of parking you need some kind of huge waiting lane, instead of the parking lot. And how efficiently  can you load  up cars ? How many will be effectively shared ? And how do you know which car is for you, like if 100 Tesla are coming  to pick up 400 people (optimistically 4 per car)..do you need to read registration plate? Screen on the outside? Loudspeaker? And what about the other 1600, still waiting?

I'm betting people won't accept to wait and won't accept complication in going home. They will leave their auto parked ready to go wherever they want. And this means that having a car will still stay ingrained as status quo symbol generally in the culture. There will be benefit in the cities maybe, although for capacity nothing beats a good train,metro, bus combination.

We will see.

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surfhb

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #41 on: December 12, 2017, 02:59:14 PM »
Drone technology seems like absurd overkill for commuting and package delivery, to me. My speculation tends more to an "internet of freight," where boxes of stuff know their destination and are just smart enough to hop off one train or conveyor belt and drive or waddle over to another.

That's actually brilliant thinking!    Disposable drones that will fly and walk to your doorstep.   Flying & walking parcel and post could be the future?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtU9p1VYtcQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ_-yb-TN9M
« Last Edit: December 12, 2017, 03:02:44 PM by surfhb »

maizeman

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #42 on: December 12, 2017, 03:12:50 PM »
I don't think anything will change dramatically.  So let's say you work in a workplace with 2000 other  people. Like an hospital or some development campus or production factory. What does it happen when 5pm comes, where do 2000 people go and wait for a car to drive them? Instead of parking you need some kind of huge waiting lane, instead of the parking lot. And how efficiently  can you load  up cars ? How many will be effectively shared ? And how do you know which car is for you, like if 100 Tesla are coming  to pick up 400 people (optimistically 4 per car)..do you need to read registration plate? Screen on the outside? Loudspeaker? And what about the other 1600, still waiting?

Why do you need to match particular people with particular cars? Couldn't people just get in whichever car was at the front of the line and tell it where to go once they hopped in? The cars could even know that when you're at a large scale pickup it makes sense to just start driving right away, and then figure out once you're going once you've made room for the next car in line, just like taxi drivers do at some airports today.

Similarly, I would expect that if we're talking a big swam of self driving cars that you'd have some sort of machine learning so the cars would know where dense concentrations of commuters were likely to pop up right around 5 pm, and could start driving there beforehand, so that cars would already be waiting as people walked out the doors.

AlanStache

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #43 on: December 12, 2017, 03:31:22 PM »
I don't think anything will change dramatically.  So let's say you work in a workplace with 2000 other  people. Like an hospital or some development campus or production factory. What does it happen when 5pm comes, where do 2000 people go and wait for a car to drive them? Instead of parking you need some kind of huge waiting lane, instead of the parking lot. And how efficiently  can you load  up cars ? How many will be effectively shared ? And how do you know which car is for you, like if 100 Tesla are coming  to pick up 400 people (optimistically 4 per car)..do you need to read registration plate? Screen on the outside? Loudspeaker? And what about the other 1600, still waiting?

Why do you need to match particular people with particular cars? Couldn't people just get in whichever car was at the front of the line and tell it where to go once they hopped in? The cars could even know that when you're at a large scale pickup it makes sense to just start driving right away, and then figure out once you're going once you've made room for the next car in line, just like taxi drivers do at some airports today.

Similarly, I would expect that if we're talking a big swam of self driving cars that you'd have some sort of machine learning so the cars would know where dense concentrations of commuters were likely to pop up right around 5 pm, and could start driving there beforehand, so that cars would already be waiting as people walked out the doors.

I think Grog was talking more about how you could ride share from a mass let out, so randomly grouping people together would not be optimal as there destinations would not likely be near each other.  I guess you would need the people sort/locate themselves in predefined areas, ie have pick up spots #1-#50, then from there they would just look for a numbered car - taxis have numbers on the roof.  As the person is getting off work they would have to confirm they are leaving now and will need a ride in 5 minutes then they would get a reply text saying "please wait in queue #34 for car 49382". 

maizeman

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #44 on: December 12, 2017, 03:33:23 PM »
Ah, gotcha. Yes if you're trying to have strangers ride share together with optimal assortment the logistics of getting the right people into the right cars quickly do start to become a fair bit more complicated. (As does the math of figuring out which people to put together in which cars.)

AlanStache

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2017, 03:44:50 PM »
Ah, gotcha. Yes if you're trying to have strangers ride share together with optimal assortment the logistics of getting the right people into the right cars quickly do start to become a fair bit more complicated. (As does the math of figuring out which people to put together in which cars.)

It is a modest Knapsack/Traveling Sales Person problem, but you can filter down easily as you wont have more than so many (tens?) going north to Burbank and so many (tens?) going east to Riverside.  Even if you have 500 who need to go to Burbank they wont all be ready for pick up at the same time.  This could be a fun little optimization/controls project!

Christof

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #46 on: December 12, 2017, 03:45:25 PM »
When talking about car fleets there will be a peak for commuting, so companies that offers these services need to cater to commuting peak times and will have idle cars for the rest of the day or risk being unreliable. One obvious solution is to find a business that has few overlaps one of which is pizza (or any food) delivery. People order when they are at work or home and their car is parked.

So likely food delivery services get special rates for using cars that would otherwise be idle. Pizza will not be brought up to your apartment anymore. However, an app will notify you when the car is ready, only open to you and you save the tip. So most people will gladly let a self driving car deliver food, even if they have to go outside to pick up food.

The other thing about self driving cars is that cars are not simply vehicles moving from A to B. They are mobile sensors. The larger you fleet is in an urban area the more useful they become. You can offer surveillance services by letting every car passing a location taking a picture. You can over precise weather forecast, because you know the amount of rain, sunshine, wind and the current cloud situation for every street in the city and how they change by the minute. This data will be more valuable to some companies than just driving services.

When (or if) self driving vehicles are common there will be a time where manual driven cars are banned as a security risk. This opens the street up to vehicles that only need to be seen by bikers and pedestrians, as other vehicles communicate with each other non-visually. Instead of lanes with cars lined up you will see all kind of large and small devices all over the street. All you need is to tap into the communication network, a battery, a motor and sensors. Vehicles will be specialized to their purpose and be as small as possible to serve their purpose not needing to have a certain hight to be seen by other drivers or be able to accelerate quickly.

Another company might offer a FireCar for their Prime customers and dispatch them from urban logistic centers with the trunk already filled with their customer's orders. That would happen to work for perishable goods, as well, and get rid of any delivery windows, stop the race towards lower delivery times (one hour now in some cities for some products) and happens to prevent theft by lowly paid drivers. Order during lunch and it's in your car when you are driven home.

beltim

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #47 on: December 12, 2017, 03:49:22 PM »
That sounds like a disaster.  Like the worst combination of long lines of cars at schools picking up parents, but without actually knowing ahead of time who is in your car pool.

For the majority of car trips (i.e. commuting), it's hard to see how this significantly saves time.  If it's just one person, you've doubled the number of trips, if not the distance, for a given trip (because car has to go from depot to your house, to work, to depot, to your work, to house, instead of home -> work and reverse).  If carpooling, it's a bit better, but then you're losing time to pick people up and drop them off.  Could work for long commutes, but it would be terrible for short to average commutes.

And then you can't really cut down on the number of cars too much, because you still need one passenger spot per worker, and more likely it's closer to one car per worker.  Workforce participation is 60-something percent, so you probably still need about 0.7 cars per person.  It's a difference from now, but not a big one.

The logistics don't get much better until you start getting to densities like current mass transit, as maizeman showed so nicely earlier.

Christof

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #48 on: December 12, 2017, 03:56:11 PM »
I don't think anything will change dramatically.  So let's say you work in a workplace with 2000 other  people. Like an hospital or some development campus or production factory. What does it happen when 5pm comes, where do 2000 people go and wait for a car to drive them? Instead of parking you need some kind of huge waiting lane, instead of the parking lot. And how efficiently  can you load  up cars ? How many will be effectively shared ? And how do you know which car is for you, like if 100 Tesla are coming  to pick up 400 people (optimistically 4 per car)..do you need to read registration plate? Screen on the outside? Loudspeaker? And what about the other 1600, still waiting?

Like in the average US school? Tell me, if I'm wrong (I'm from Germany, so I don't have practical experience), but isn't this done by finishing school at different times per grade, have everyone queue on the street instead of a parking lot and discourage other means by letting those wait till the end that want to walk home on their own.

In a company if you happen to work together with someone from your area and go home at the same time, you'll know each other after a short time, especially if you are motivated by a rebate that you are offered if you share your car instead of insisting on your own. You'll gather somewhere, then walk down to the entrance and enter the next available car which already knows who you are and where you go, as your phone told it.

Christof

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Re: The Logistics of Self-Driving Cars
« Reply #49 on: December 12, 2017, 04:11:50 PM »
For the majority of car trips (i.e. commuting), it's hard to see how this significantly saves time.  If it's just one person, you've doubled the number of trips, if not the distance, for a given trip (because car has to go from depot to your house, to work, to depot, to your work, to house, instead of home -> work and reverse).  If carpooling, it's a bit better, but then you're losing time to pick people up and drop them off.  Could work for long commutes, but it would be terrible for short to average commutes.

No... Commutes are predictable, orders are predictable, even rides are somewhat predictable if you have to specify the destination in advance. It's a complex system, but you can optimize this using cars that are mostly running around and drop by the depot on the way to picking you up only if you actually have orders. It's a system that works the more efficient that more of a market share you have and therefore leads to the same "winner takes it all" that we currently see with companies like Amazon, Google, Uber...

Self driving cars won't lead itself to car pooling... People will do it if there is a financial benefit that outweighs their perceived risk and companies will offer the service if pooling actually reduces the operating cost. In public transport people feel more secure if there are many people around them. Even with camera surveillance, people feel a lot less secure at 11 PM in a train when there is just a few other passengers compared to rush hour with hundreds of fellow travellers, even though crime rates are higher during rush hour.

Self driving electric cars will drive more miles per person than manual driven gas operated cars, as they can be used by more people (children, elderly, blind, drunk people) and they potentially have a lower barrier of using especially once you pay a fixed price per month rather per minute or mile.