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pware
July 24th, 2017, 12:14 AM
Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest miners, has announced that their much delayed "AutoHaul" driver-less heavy haul ore trains will be operating by the end of 2018. The company expects to haul 330 - 340 million tonnes of iron ore over its remote 1,300 km Pilbara rail network in the north west of Western Australia. The fully automated locos will be controlled from an operations center in the state capital, Perth, about 1,500 km south.

The program, which was initially announced in 2008, began testing automated locos in 2014 but reportedly ran into software difficulties.

When (if) operational, the trains will be the first heavy haul driver-less trains in the world.

wholbr
July 24th, 2017, 06:09 AM
Hi pware and everybody.
Driverless vehicles will without doubt become a large part of everyone's lives over the next decade. On the London Underground trains on the Central line are already capable of driverless operation (so it is reported) but they still maintain a driver in the cab but he/she does little more than open and close the doors.

New train stock to be introduced on the Picadilly and Northern lines of the London Underground will a!so be autonomous capable, but they to will have a qualified driver in the cab to "monitor all operation" of the train. The forgoing is obviously a measure by Transport for London to placate the concerns of the current driver workforce in regard to their futures in the face of this technology.

However, sections of London's Crossrail line (now renamed the Elizabeth line) are starting to open. In the foregoing it could well be that when the line fully opens in 2019 that MTR who will operate those trains will insist on true driverless operation. That without doubt will bring about a backlash from the existing drivers throughout the London Underground and " battle royal" will commence.

Interesting times ahead on Britain's railways I feel.
Bill.

johnwhelan
July 24th, 2017, 12:21 PM
Hi pware and everybody.
Driverless vehicles will without doubt become a large part of everyone's lives over the next decade. On the London Underground trains on the Central line are already capable of driverless operation (so it is reported) but they still maintain a driver in the cab but he/she does little more than open and close the doors.

New train stock to be introduced on the Picadilly and Northern lines of the London Underground will a!so be autonomous capable, but they to will have a qualified driver in the cab to "monitor all operation" of the train. The forgoing is obviously a measure by Transport for London to placate the concerns of the current driver workforce in regard to their futures in the face of this technology.

However, sections of London's Crossrail line (now renamed the Elizabeth line) are starting to open. In the foregoing it could well be that when the line fully opens in 2019 that MTR who will operate those trains will insist on true driverless operation. That without doubt will bring about a backlash from the existing drivers throughout the London Underground and " battle royal" will commence.

Interesting times ahead on Britain's railways I feel.
Bill.

Docklands has been running driverless trains for years. There are many other instances of driverless passenger trains around the world.

Cheerio John

wholbr
July 24th, 2017, 01:13 PM
Hi John and everybody.
Yes John I am aware that the Docklands Railway is driverless as I have traveled on it several times. I never realized that untill somebody on this forum told me so several years ago. I think that person may it may have been you John, so next time I travelled on it I made sure I got a good look at the front of the train, and sure enough no driver (LOL)

However, I would not take for granted that driverless operation being accepted on those small London lines by the rail unions the same will be so on the eleven (soon to be twelve) line London Underground or the rest of the UK rail network. As I stated above, I think it will be "the battle royal" as the rail unions are the most militant in Britain.

Bill

oknotsen
July 24th, 2017, 01:57 PM
in 2014For those interested, the topic in 2014:
https://forums.auran.com/trainz/showthread.php?111398-It-had-to-happen-driverless-trains

I found it after I wanted to make this post:
Another example of a driverless train:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_Metro - The Dubai Metro.... and then remembered I had already made that post :hehe:.

Also the metro in Rotterdam has been able to operate without a driver for about 20 years now. It mainly is the law that prevents this from happening.

jordon412
July 24th, 2017, 03:55 PM
What concerns me about driverless trains is what if there's a railroad crossing and a car tries to beat the train across the track? Most people don't realize it, but it'll take time for the commands for the train to get from the control center to the train, 1500 kilometers away. A good example of this is the rovers on Mars, where commands for the rovers can take days to travel from Earth to Mars. And what if the controller tries to stop the train before it hit the car? Since there's a delay between the commands leaving the control center to arriving at the train, by the time the command to stop reaches the train, it may have already hit the car. Therefore, it would be best that the train still has a crew on board, in case the aforementioned occurs. If this occurs, then the crew will be able to stop the train by 'overriding' the remote control system and try to bring the train to a halt before hitting the car, or minimizing the damage to the train and the car. All of the aforementioned examples of remote controlled trains are on grade separated routes, so having to deal with things such as railroad crossings are eliminated.

oknotsen
July 24th, 2017, 05:19 PM
it'll take time for the commands for the train to get from the control center to the train, 1500 kilometers away. A good example of this is the rovers on Mars, where commands for the rovers can take days to travel from Earth to Mars. And what if the controller tries to stop the train before it hit the car? Since there's a delay between the commands leaving the control center to arriving at the train, by the time the command to stop reaches the train, it may have already hit the car. Really? That really is a good example?
Let's do the math, shall we?
The distance to Mars (https://www.google.com/search?q=distance+to+mars&oq=distance+to+mars) varies between 54.6 million km and 401 million km. The time it takes to send a message to Mars (https://www.google.com/search?q=time+to+send+message+to+mars) varies between 4 and 24 minutes.
54.6 million divided by 1500 is 36400.
4 minutes is 240 seconds. 240 seconds divided by 36400 is 0.0066 seconds.
Following the logic of this example, it would take the controller 1500km away about 0.0066 seconds longer to hit the brake versus the person in the train.
I doubt the train is going 120km an hour, but let's assume it does. That comes down to 33.33m per second. In that case the train would stop 22cm earlier.

Reality is the delay is a tiny bit more of course.

Reality is also that it is next to impossible to stop the ore train on time anyway, even if you would have been sitting in the cab. The internet is full of footage of these kind of accidents and you usually see the train stop 100+m after the crossing. Those 22cm are not going to make a noticeable difference.

The advantage, however, is that if the train is going to hit someone who is so stupid to try and beat a train at least there is no chance of injury to the train driver as he is sitting 1500km away in a safe office. The train can derail, catch fire, have that car fly into the cab or even explode and the controller can just go for coffee.

If you have any doubt about my math or you just don't believe it: Figure out who is your facebook friend who lives the longest distance away and give him/her a call over Skype or on your cell phone. You might not even notice the delay.

pware
July 24th, 2017, 05:57 PM
If you have any doubt about my math or you just don't believe it: Figure out who is your facebook friend who lives the longest distance away and give him/her a call over Skype or on your cell phone. You might not even notice the delay.

... and most of that delay would be caused by processing (compressing and decompressing) the video images.

jordon412
July 24th, 2017, 07:22 PM
The advantage, however, is that if the train is going to hit someone who is so stupid to try and beat a train at least there is no chance of injury to the train driver as he is sitting 1500km away in a safe office. The train can derail, catch fire, have that car fly into the cab or even explode and the controller can just go for coffee.

If you have any doubt about my math or you just don't believe it: Figure out who is your facebook friend who lives the longest distance away and give him/her a call over Skype or on your cell phone. You might not even notice the delay.

1. I don't do Facebook, Twitter, or any of that stuff. If someone wants to talk to me, they can call me, text me, E-Mail me, or talk to me in person. I don't want someone from the other side of the world to ask me if I could be friends with him.
2. And what if the power for the control center goes out? You've got a runaway train, unless they either have a crew onboard to drive it manually if the power goes out, or the computer program automatically brings the train to a halt of transmission is lost.
3. What about something a computer can't control, like say, the brake hose between two cars disconnect? This would automatically bring the train to a halt, but then you have to wait for a person to drive out to the train, which could be in the middle of nowhere, and take who knows how long to get there, and then fix the problem. Then they may have to, like say, restart the program that controls the train in order for the train to start moving again. If you have a crew onboard, and they have the right tools and parts, they can fix the problem right then and get the train moving again, without waiting who knows how long for a person to come out and fix it.
4. And what if the computer starts malfunctioning for some reason?
The point is: The cab should have a crew member on the train in case something happens that results in the crew member having to take control of the train.

pware
July 24th, 2017, 08:12 PM
1. I don't do Facebook, Twitter, or any of that stuff. If someone wants to talk to me, they can call me, text me, E-Mail me, or talk to me in person. I don't want someone from the other side of the world to ask me if I could be friends with him.

The point being made was that the delay involved in transmitting a signal 1500 km is minimal - even if you factor in the extra distance needed for a satellite link (there is no cell phone coverage in that area).


2. And what if the power for the control center goes out? You've got a runaway train, unless they either have a crew onboard to drive it manually if the power goes out, or the computer program automatically brings the train to a halt of transmission is lost.

Obviously, such a control center would have emergency backup power and even if that was lost, the trains would go into shutdown as is the case with current driver-less trains (although I would not like to think what "shut down mode" would be like in a pilot-less plane in mid flight)


3. What about something a computer can't control, like say, the brake hose between two cars disconnect? This would automatically bring the train to a halt, but then you have to wait for a person to drive out to the train, which could be in the middle of nowhere, and take who knows how long to get there, and then fix the problem. Then they may have to, like say, restart the program that controls the train in order for the train to start moving again. If you have a crew onboard, and they have the right tools and parts, they can fix the problem right then and get the train moving again, without waiting who knows how long for a person to come out and fix it.

True, but not all breakdowns will be as simple to fix as a disconnected brake hose. I have had the experience of sitting on a human driven passenger train in the middle of "nowhere" waiting for a mechanic to arrive to fix a problem that was beyond the abilities of the train crew to fix. This would be factored into their costings and planning.


4. And what if the computer starts malfunctioning for some reason?
The point is: The cab should have a crew member on the train in case something happens that results in the crew member having to take control of the train.

This is the same reasoning that insisted that all buses and trams must have both a driver and a conductor. On board ticket machines and now automated "tap-on tap-off" ticketing systems have eliminated the conductor. Driver only passenger trains are becoming the norm in most metro systems and in many of those the driver simply opens and closes the doors, a function that can be easily automated.

Certainly these are early days but full automation and AI controlled systems are coming. I do find this paradoxical in a world that is overpopulated and the number of unemployed seems to be forever growing. Perhaps we need to rethink our major social and economic structures but I really don't see the clock being turned back, despite the claims of some prominent politicians.

cyberdongreen
July 25th, 2017, 05:29 AM
As a former Train Driver in the UK (and a former member of the A.S.L.E & F union) I can tell you that the idea of running driverless trains between cities in Britiain was long ago seriously discussed (1980's - 1990's.) It was particularly thought at that time though that the travelling British public would not accept driverless passenger trains travelling at high speeds at any price and so the subject was cast into the long grass. Freight was not even seriously considered at that time.

Meanwhile, London Underground's driverless services are manned by a qualified driver whose job it is to read every newspaper and magazine that he/she can lay his/her hands on each and every time they book on duty (actually, it's to apply the brake manually in an emergency but...) Trains are monitored from a panel very similar to that which you will find in any modern signalling centre. There are no onboard CCTV cameras to see in a forward looking direction from the cab in order to remotely operate any individual train or, indeed to see into the cab of any train.

As time has passed - and corporate greed has become evermore consuming - many of the freight operating companies in Britain have looked again at the option of driverless train working. Aside from all out war with the Unions, their main fear is litigation. The massive "What if..." factor and the threat to their potentially massive investments is their most pressing concern. What if one of their driverless trains was involved in an accident/collision with a passenger train? The corporate damage would possibly be irrepairable - and the potential fines, prison sentences for corporate manslaughter and compensation claims from the families of the dead and injured would be horrific to the moneymen too. All their wealth vanished in a puff of smoke. It would never do.

Running trains out in the desert, with little or no human conflict, would be an easy enough operation to set up and run though. However, the trains would not be monitored in the way many of you people seem to think. We are not talking drones here.These trains would be watched on a panel with an "overseer" monitoring several trains along a prescribed section of the railway many, many miles long. He/she would be capable of stopping or starting trains at the push of a button but speed etc would be determined by the onboard software and trackside electronic equipment. Train spacing and regulation would also be the responsibility of software so human interaction would be extremely limited. Furthermore, these trains would be running on "Private" land so trespassers would likely forgo any right to compensation for injuries recieved as a result of being somewhere that they shouldn't have been.

In days gone by, I have known more than a few UK drivers who were tempted by ridiculously high wages to leave the UK and go and work on some of these ore mining railways, in both Australia and South Africa. The stories that they relayed about corporate greed would make your toenails curl up. Are these really the type of people you would want to trust with railway safety?

In South Africa, many poor people saw these private railways as a way of getting rich (not rich by Western standards, but certainly by African villager standards.) The villager, often drunk for courage purposes, would find a remote spot near their village and lie in wait for one of these ore trains. As the train approached (weighing some 10,000 thousands tons minimum remember, and often much more) the villager would sit down next to the track and place one leg across the rail. Under South African law, the private railway operator automatically had to compensate the "victim" for the injuries incurred - and besides, any court case could cost hundreds of times more so it was in the interests of the company to settle quickly. The driver of the train would be sacked on the spot. No questions asked; immediate dismissal. Drivers were constantly warned to look out for potential "victims" but, although these trains were specifically limited to 20 mph or less through many of these areas to avoid just such incidents, they inevitably still occurred - and they still do. Thousands of tons travelling at even a slow speed takes a lot of stopping.

I think that until you have been in the unenviable position of watching a horrific situation unfolding before you, knowing that you have every last ounce of brake force applied, and with your toes curled up tight, your fingernails doing their utmost to dig right through the palms your hands, in the full and certain knowledge that you are now just a spectator and there is nothing more in this world that you can possibly do, then you don't have the right to sit in judgement of the man (or woman) who has lived that moment. I can guarantee you that every train driver and every conductor employed on every railway in the world can tell you of at least one such experience in their life. Things don't always end badly (apart from underwear damage of course) and people don't always get killed or injured, but ask anyone who's had that close call if there's a difference when it comes to shock value. Think very carefully before you take away the REAL safety devices - the train crews.

Cheers

Dave

amigacooke
July 25th, 2017, 06:01 AM
In days gone by, I have known more than a few UK drivers who were tempted by ridiculously high wages to leave the UK and go and work on some of these ore mining railways, in both Australia and South Africa. The stories that they relayed about corporate greed would make your toenails curl up. Are these really the type of people you would want to trust with railway safety?

Are you talking about the greedy corporations or the greedy individuals?

jordon412
July 25th, 2017, 07:52 AM
cyberdongreen, you summed up my point in your post, particularly the last sentence of the post.

wholbr
July 25th, 2017, 08:35 AM
Hi everybody.
There is much I can agree with in the posting of Cybordongreen above, but I believe everyone can in this instance look to European Road haulage industry (trucking) and their trials with heavy driverless vehicles for perhaps how autonomous train control could develop and become acceptable to the general public and also those who work in the rail industry. In the foregoing it has been the terrorist truck attacks in Nice France and Berlin Germany that has very much consentrated the minds of all those involved in heavy road vehicle Safety and in that seeing some solution to stopping such attacks in driverless vehicles.

Autonomous road vehicles run on the basis that all control is held within the IT system of the vehicle with no outside control taking place whatsoever under normal traveling conditions. Trials of both cars and trucks fitted with such systems have gone well in Europe​ with those trials now extending to actual everyday operation with both trucks and cars with few incidents occuring at this point in the development.

As with London Underground central line operation the trucks still have a qualified driver in the cab but he/she cannot change the downloaded schedule of the vehicle or its full IT operation but in a systems failure emergency can take control to bring the vehicle to a stop under safe control. Also in the case of trucks monitoring does take place at a distant central control who can change the schedule of the vehicle(s) and also bring the vehicle to a stop should it deviate from the schedule or the vehicle auto report mechanical or IT system problems.

Many sections of autonomous vehicle control are fitted to vehicles already in production. in the case of the terrorist Berlin Christmas market attack it was the forward collision control fitted to the truck that prevented many further casualties than were incurred by way of that IT bringing the vehicle to a stop as soon as it collided with the first market stall. Had the truck not been fitted with such technology then as in the Nice France attack the vehicle would have traveled on down through the entire market causing much greater carnage. It is felt that had the vehicle been fitted with the latest "lane change control" the terrorist would not have been able to get the truck to even collide with the first market stall.

Many thoughts in the rail industry have turned to driverless trains having far greater security than the present single driver in cab control that is so vulnerable to a mistake by that driver and terrorist vunerability. Yes, let us keep that driver in that cab but that person will professionally monitor the train system(s) with a secure central control scheduling the rail movements and having an overriding control in an emergency.

Bill

pware
July 25th, 2017, 05:42 PM
Many thoughts in the rail industry have turned to driverless trains having far greater security than the present single driver in cab control that is so vulnerable to a mistake by that driver and terrorist vunerability. Yes, let us keep that driver in that cab but that person will professionally monitor the train system(s) with a secure central control scheduling the rail movements and having an overriding control in an emergency.

The same debate is currently raging in the aviation industry over the question of who should be in control of the aircraft - the human pilot or the computer. It is already possible for a commercial jetliner to takeoff, fly to its destination and land completely under computer control. In fact if you have taken a long haul flight recently then it is highly likely that the "off-the-shelf" aircraft you flew in was capable, or very nearly capable, of doing just that.

The two main aircraft manufacturers, Boeing-McDonald-Douglas and Airbus, have taken very different approaches to this. Essentially, with Boeing the pilot is still in command but the computer is the supervisor while with Airbus the computer is in command with the pilot as a supervisor. Both approaches have been shown to have their advantages and disadvantages - and the latter can be with fatal consequences.

Ignoring mechanical and design failures (still alarmingly common in aircraft), human error is the single biggest cause of aviation accidents hence the push to reduce the human input in piloting. I don't recall seeing a similar analysis for rail accidents but I would suspect that the human error tally would be correspondingly high. Certainly the last major rail accident here involving fatalities was put down to a human failure - the driver suffered a heart attack and it was suspected that he may have circumvented the "dead-man" safety system (which was later revealed in the inquiry to be a common practice amongst drivers on long trips).

I am not sure what the best balance should be. Having a human in the control cabin is very reassuring for the passengers but on my very few trips on driver-less trains (Vancouver, London and Singapore) I did not notice any anxiety amongst the passengers on trains where no human was visibly in control. In fact the front seat with an uninterrupted "drivers eye" view was very popular.

Here in Sydney, a brand new driver-less Metro system is under construction with the first part due to open in 2019. Other parts will open during the following years. Because this system will be completely independent of the existing and very extensive suburban rail network, which will remain with human drivers and guards, there was no fight with the rail unions. The existing system will also be receiving upgrades including increased capacity and more human controlled trains.

The Pilbara heavy hauled trains are a different situation. I believe that the current drivers will be offered "driving" positions in the control centre with considerable improvements in comfort and convenience - the daytime summer temperatures in the Pilbara top the 50C mark which makes a walk to the end (and back) of a 2.7km long ore train to find and fix a broken air hose no picnic.

casanova419
July 25th, 2017, 06:08 PM
Here’s a crewless automated container ship http://bgr.com/2017/07/24/crewless-ship-yara-birkeland/

pware
July 25th, 2017, 09:14 PM
I pity the lone "weekend sailor" in his dinghy with a single sail coming across this monster and insisting on his right of "Sail before Steam".

Bill69
July 25th, 2017, 10:25 PM
I pity the lone "weekend sailor" in his dinghy with a single sail coming across this monster and insisting on his right of "Sail before Steam".

The right of way for sail does not apply to vessels over 500 tons. Sailing dinghies have to give way to any large ships.

Bill69

pware
July 25th, 2017, 10:48 PM
The right of way for sail does not apply to vessels over 500 tons. Sailing dinghies have to give way to any large ships.

Ahhh... but many of the "weekend sailors" I see "mucking about in boats" on Sydney Harbour on weekends would not know that:D

cyberdongreen
July 26th, 2017, 05:12 AM
Are you talking about the greedy corporations or the greedy individuals?
Both, actually. The corporations were (and most likely still are) merciless when it came to their profits. If an employee of any of the type of railway organisations I mentioned previously cost the bosses money by way damage or compensation for injuries (including to themselves) then they very quickly found themselves on the road out of town.

Many of the drivers I knew who went out to those places (less than 10 to be fair) saw only the package that was put on the table and they were sold on the idea of luxury immediately. One of our drivers came to work one day and showed us the brochures (yes brochures) that he had received in the post from one particular South African mining company. In the late 70's and early 80's many of these overseas companies advertised heavily for rail staff of all grades in the British Rail internal newspaper (called Railnews.) The brochure (this one aimed specifically at drivers) promised the successful applicant "a handsome monthly financial reward" for delivering the company's products safely to their destination as well as luxury rent free accommodation with a swimming pool and full housekeeping staff included for the whole term of their employment. Some married men were even promised chauffers to drive their kids to private schools, though I don't know if that was ever a reality. I don't see why not. The handsome rewards were phenomenal - about 5 or 6 times the monthly pay of a driver in England (working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week) for a standard 10 hour day, 6 days a week. The company would also pay for flights home twice a year for two weeks at a time.

The downside, of course, I mentioned in my previous post. Absolutely no employee protection whatsoever and no sick pay. Many of the contracts weren't worth the paper they were written on. They were usually titled 5 year rollover contracts but, as I've intimated more than once, they could be terminated in the blink of an eye. So many men only read the kind of stuff I've written above though and couldn't wait to get out there. Two of them in particular, I met at London's Euston station one morning following their recent return from Australia, a mere three years after they left us. They'd been involved in some kind of mishap in a yard somewhere and the whole lot of them had been sacked; drivers, shunters, foreman, you name it. All gone, no messing about, no finding out whose fault it was. Merciless.

These two were hoping to get an interview for a lowly job back on British Rail somewhere at some point but had yet to hear any news on that score at the time I spoke to them (once a driver left BR in those days you could never return as a driver.) One eventually became a conductor at Watford Junction but I've no idea what happened to the other one.

Returning to the point of autonomous operation though, I really don't see the point of it if you have to keep a human being on board to be convinced of total safety. Excluding freight traffic, current trains in the UK (and I include Channel Tunnel trains to Paris and Brussels in that statement and probably more than half of Europe too) have so much computerised stuff on board these days that the driver cannot so much as take a deep breath without it being monitored or authorised by an onboard system somewhere. I've said it before, many times, but you could train a monkey to drive a modern train. It is that simple now. Even the fastest high speed trains have fully electronic braking systems that apply and release the brakes instantly on every vehicle at exactly the same time. Unit trains bolted together so that there is no coupling to worry about. And if a driver approaches a caution signal too fast (in the opinion of the onboard software) the computer takes over and puts the brakes on even harder until a speed acceptable to "it" is achieved. It is nigh on impossible now (unless these systems are isolated for any reason) to pass a signal in a danger state unless fully authorised to do so. The human onboard instigates stop and go, little else. As long as he/she stays within the set parameters they can have some kind of limited control; but overall, the computer is boss.

So you see, automation is but a single step away anyway. Everything is already monitored or overridden by or dictated by computers. Yes, aeroplanes have been heavilyy automated for years now but, arguably, there's less to bump into "up there." And I really don't see autonomous road vehicles being a big thing in the near future. Not because the capability isn't there. The problem is that too many people love their cars so much and the act of driving them.

Without the will of the people automation is not possible - and, IMHO, artificial intelligence is anything but intelligent at this time. How many of you remember our childhood comics with their "flying cars" and high speed monorail systems? I'm still waiting to see them, how about you? I doubt I will in my lifetime.

Cheers

Dave

wholbr
July 26th, 2017, 05:16 AM
Hi everybody.

The two main aircraft manufacturers, Boeing-McDonald-Douglas and Airbus, have taken very different approaches to this. Essentially, with Boeing the pilot is still in command but the computer is the supervisor while with Airbus the computer is in command with the pilot as a supervisor. Both approaches have been shown to have their advantages and disadvantages - and the latter can be with fatal consequences.

Pware, you have very much hit the core of the role of artificial intelligence in transport debate with your above example and statement. As we have witnessed throughout the world and in particular here in Europe in recent months, almost any powered vehicle can be used as a weapon to terrible effect or human error can create an unwanted man made catastrophe. In either of the foregoing the larger the vehicle the more devastating can be the outcome.

Anyone who has seen the film "Sully" in which the flight crew make an emergency landing in New York's Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 strikes a flock of geese will perhaps relies that no computer could have carried out what those pilots did. The flight crew had less than two minutes but in that time they evaluate the situation, throw the flight plan and aircraft manual "out the window" and then land on the river saving​ all on board.

Of course there is the opposite side as was so terribly witnessed on 9/11 when aircraft in total human control were used to such catostrofic affect. Aircraft thankfully have become much more difficult to commandeer in recent times. However, other vehicles have now become weapons for terror attacks and as ever susceptible to a genuine human error also causing any number of incidents.

Certainly in the European road haulage industry the thinking is with artificial intelligence as the way forward in terms of safety but we have a long way to go in terms of needing changes to legislation. There is also the matter of the large number of small haulers that give such great service but would not survive the radical changes that such legislation will bring about. The large UK and European rail industries are also now coming face to face with the many dilemmas that artificial intelligence will bring to that system of transport and the changes that will be needed to accommodate such systems.

Driverless vehicles especially in regard to road will i feel change the way we all think in terms of travel and also in regards to work availability and what we engage in while carrying out that employment.

Bill

cyberdongreen
July 26th, 2017, 05:27 AM
Driverless vehicles especially in regard to road will i feel change the way we all think in terms of travel and also in regards to work availability and what we engage in while carrying out that employment.

Bill
I agree. I think fully autonomous vehicles of all kind will come eventually, Bill, whether any of us likes it or not. My worry is what will happen to the people who can no longer find employment in our computerised, automatic world. Are we going to be paid to stay at home? I doubt that very much, certainly not on a survivable income anyway.

Cheers

Dave

pware
July 26th, 2017, 07:14 AM
Are we going to be paid to stay at home? I doubt that very much, certainly not on a survivable income anyway.

Which brings up the need to reevaluate our entire economic system. One proposal that is being seriously looked at, and even trialed in various parts of the world, is the concept of a "living wage". If farmers can be paid to not plant a crop then perhaps people can be paid a living wage to "stay at home" and pursue other interests such as hobbies (Trainz comes quickly to mind), volunteer work, creative activities, etc. If they have skills that are in demand then they can even work at a job for additional income.

pfx
July 26th, 2017, 02:14 PM
I agree. I think fully autonomous vehicles of all kind will come eventually, Bill, whether any of us likes it or not. My worry is what will happen to the people who can no longer find employment in our computerised, automatic world. Are we going to be paid to stay at home? I doubt that very much, certainly not on a survivable income anyway.

Cheers

Dave

By way of one example, I do occasional work in a factory owned by a large multi-national. They brought in 5 robots which made 15 men redundant. Sounds like good progress as long as the bottom line goes up.

Paulsw2
July 26th, 2017, 04:45 PM
In the foregoing it could well be that when the line fully opens in 2019 that MTR who will operate those trains will insist on true driverless operation. That without doubt will bring about a backlash from the existing drivers throughout the London Underground and " battle royal" will commence.

And possibly a 'backlash' from 'existing' passengers who may not wish to be on a train, 60-70 ft below ground in subsurface tunnels with no 'capable guardian' on the train whatsoever.

Paul

wholbr
July 26th, 2017, 05:14 PM
I would have to agree with those in this thread that express concearn in regards to employment availability in the in the coming years. It is difficult to look around the Transport industry and not identify many thousands of jobs that will be taken over by AI in the not so distant future. The foregoing is especially prevelent in the road transport where warehouse distribution employment is already being transformed by robotic pickers etc with the employment numbers required already falling.

However, here in the UK we seem unable to take up new employment opportunities even when they are presented due to lack of skills training in our education sector. If I give my own sub sector (industrial safety) as an example, it is virtually impossible to find personel with qualifications in electronics, engineering and the sciences that the sector so desperately requires. It is especially prevelent for companies such as ours that we find persons with "shop floor experience" in the foregoing before we train them on in using those skills in an industrial safety environment. Even finding legal Secretaries whose high skills underpin everything the rest us do can be a "desperate quest" in these times.

In the above it would seem that our education system turns out many that have degrees and A level qualifications in media and arts but few in the skills the country in reality really requires. In the huge aerospace industry consentrated in North Bristol BAE Systems and Rolls Royce were both stating that the above skills shortages were seriously impacting on there production capabilities in the last weeks. The new GWR train servicing centre due to open in North Bristol shortly is also finding it difficult to recruit the skilled service engineer's they require if they are to fully ramp operations up on schedule.

On a lighter note, it is now not uncommon to write a risk assessment for a robotic operation these days. I have often wondered while writing such if any of those robots ever read them.

Bill

pware
July 26th, 2017, 06:40 PM
In the above it would seem that our education system turns out many that have degrees and A level qualifications in media and arts but few in the skills the country in reality really requires.

As a former Science and then Information Technology teacher, I can attest to the drift away from "technical skills" training. Parents and students now often see little value in technical education partly because of the belief that automation will make such jobs redundant. Today if any consumer technology product breaks down it is far cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one. In industry the role of a technician is often simply to replace and throw away any faulty circuit boards or components - repair is not time or cost efficient.

The courses that are in demand here are in the humanities and the arts - too many parents hold the view, often against all reality, that "little Johnny" or "little Mary" will be going into law or medicine because that's where the "real money" and job security are to be found. Paradoxically, those professions are ripe for automation because of the high costs (i.e. salaries) of doctors and lawyers.

I have always believed that the logical conclusion to automation is a world of fully automated factories and offices providing all possible goods and services that no-one can afford to buy because no-one has a job. In reality, I think we will see a social revolution, or worse a violent backlash, that will start at the grass-roots. The rise of the "anti-globalisation" and "protectionist" movements worldwide (Brexit in the UK, Trump in the US, "lunatic fringe" parties here in Oz and elsewhere) may be the start of this revolution.

johnwhelan
July 26th, 2017, 07:58 PM
>In industry the role of a technician is often simply to replace and throw away any faulty circuit boards or components - repair is not time or cost efficient.

Well yes but you still need someone to spot which bit needs to be replaced.

The humanities are cheap to teach, and because they aren't hard facts, ie mix these two chemicals together now did it go bang? It's easy to give credit for an opinion. 41% of UK university students now get a first class honours at some universities. With roughly 50% of students going to University this compares to what 5% forty years ago and of those 7% or less than 1% of the population of that age group would get a first class honours.

I don't know what the answer is. I do know the more specialised you are the more difficult to get a job can be. You choose a subject a year before going to University and hope that in four years time that subject will be in demand. Until recently people who studied geology would be snapped up by the oil industry. Today many have been laid off with ten or more years experience.

Cheerio John

cyberdongreen
July 27th, 2017, 04:57 AM
...In the above it would seem that our education system turns out many that have degrees and A level qualifications in media and arts but few in the skills the country in reality really requires...

Bill
Again, I fully agree but I think it's very much a reflection of the deluded televison and Facebook dominated times we live in. The "X Factor" and so called "Reality" programmes that are about as far removed from reality as you can get and which are filled with poorly behaved Z listed "stars" that most people have never even heard of. Unfortunately, this has left us with a generation where so many young people have these ridiculous dreams of being "a star" of some sort and they have no concept of the reality of life.

I know that in Britain the idea that kids should have to stay on at school until they're 18 was just a callous way to cut the unemployment figures and the amount of benefits being paid out by the state. The trouble is, most of these kids being kept in school really don't want to be there and rightly see themselves as young adults who are capable of thinking for themselves. The subjects on offer to them are often ridulous media or social sciences based options that most have no interest in. That inevitably turns them into rebels without a cause (with record numbers now being excluded or expelled) and enforces their belief that society has no interest in them. They then in turn fail to grasp the idea of self discipline, lounging around doing little or nothing while somebody else picks up the bill, and they think everyone is picking on them. The idea of full automation then confirms their worst fears completely. Future? What future?

Sadly, many parents in the Western World have made life too easy for the younger ones too. Anything they ask for they get. If something breaks they throw it away and get a new one. You tell them tales about how you only got an apple or an orange for Christmas when YOU were a kid and they look at you like you just spoke to them in Latin or something.

Yes, automation is coming but, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to, as pware said earlier, completely re-evaluate our whole economic system and our outlook on what is and isn't important to us as a species. The current system of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer can only have disasterous results at some future point. Let's give our kids hope. Give them a proper education in the skills that matter - including life skills. Too often these days people look around for someone else to blame when things go wrong instead of taking it on the chin, dusting themselves down and going again. When WE were young we were always taught that you get nothing without hard work. We need to teach our kids those values too and then teach them how to put things right.

Cheers

Dave

johnwhelan
July 27th, 2017, 08:04 AM
>When WE were young we were always taught that you get nothing without hard work.

I think its a different age these days. ITIL and ISO 9000 have brought better quality and lowered costs but at the same time have reduced the need for people. Walmart has lowered prices for many people but at the expense of many retail jobs. Subway franchises are more popular that local cafes but have deskilled the work in many ways.

I think we need to accept the idea that fewer people will have a job in the future whether they are prepared to work hard or not. I've seen someone come up with an idea that saved the organisation a few million dollars but they were the sort of person that reflected rather than worked ten hours a day so its difficult to know what to value. Should we look for solutions that would look after all members of society at a lower total cost as Australia does with health care or should what is the most profitable for business guide us?

and there we are getting into politics so it had better be left where it is.

Cheerio John

jordon412
July 27th, 2017, 10:06 AM
Walmart has lowered prices for many people but at the expense of many retail jobs.

I would like to say a few things:
1. I got my job with the help of a thing called Project SEARCH. It's a program by a local group called Cross Plains Community Partnership. This group partners with local businesses (in this case, the local hospital and Shaw Industries, which is the biggest manufacturer of textiles in, at least America) to provide internships for people with disabilities to find jobs. I was part of a group of four 'Guinea Pigs' for the Shaw program, as we were the first group to be in the Shaw program. It was lasted nine months, Monday to Friday, 7:00AM-3:30PM, same hours as going to school. We got paid during our internship, and were provided transportation if no one could get us from home to our workplace, or vice versa, in my case, it was from work to home. I just wish that there was more of these programs out there, as it would help a younger generation find jobs instead of sitting at home on their behinds all the time.

2. There's two things about Wal-Mart I've learned: 1. You can find all the things you need on a daily basis there (as long as it's family-friendly (well, except for the video games, movies and TV shows you can buy in the Electronics area, as some of them are not appropriate for younger children)). 2. I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but my family has the problem of going to Wal-Mart and as soon as we pull into the driveway at our house, we remember something we forgot to get there.

cyberdongreen
July 28th, 2017, 04:16 AM
...I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but my family has the problem of going to Wal-Mart and as soon as we pull into the driveway at our house, we remember something we forgot to get there.
:hehe: I wish I got paid for how many times that's happened to me here in the UK ha ha! Now, if only there was a way to automate someway of putting that situation right... ;)

Cheers

Dave

davies_mike57
August 9th, 2017, 05:10 AM
Instead of investing and wasting money into the development of driver-less passenger and freight trains in Australia, it would be more advantageous to set a target of electrifying the whole nations rail network by the year of 2050.
Replace all diesel powered locomotives with an electric system, so that we can help to reduce world air pollution.
Still prefer a human train driver with the "dead man's switch button" active as a fail safe measure.

pware
August 9th, 2017, 07:44 AM
Replace all diesel powered locomotives with an electric system, so that we can help to reduce world air pollution.

That very much depends on how the electricity is generated. Here in Oz we are now starting to close old coal burning power stations and are not building new ones - although some politicians still believe in "clean coal", an oxymoron in my opinion. One state just closed a 60 year old power station that provided about 25% of that states power and 5% of the nations power by burning brown coal and was regarded as the worlds dirtiest and most polluting power station. So that was a win for the environment but some are predicting blackouts and power shortages as a result.

Nuclear power is not an option here, despite the claims of those same politicians, and while hydro is used it is not really suitable in one of the driest and flattest continents on Earth. We have no geothermal or tidal options to speak of so that really only leaves solar, which we have an over-abundance of for about half of each day (but that not the time when you want it) and wind (usually provided in abundance but erratically by politicians). We do have a huge supply of natural gas but nearly all of that is exported to Asia at inflated prices.

Over the last decade the electricity suppliers have dramatically increased the prices they charge everyone, especially the rail operators, with the result that electric locos have been scrapped and the electric rail network is being wound back in some states. Diesel is far cheaper and more flexible for rail than electric power, even ignoring the infrastructure costs.


Still prefer a human train driver with the "dead man's switch button" active as a fail safe measure.

For the time being, I cannot argue over that but there has been one major fatal rail accident here where the driver "circumvented" that safety device (a common practice at that time) and then suffered a heart attack. But eventually, humans will be shown to be far less reliable and more error-prone that automated systems.

jordon412
August 9th, 2017, 08:44 AM
For the time being, I cannot argue over that but there has been one major fatal rail accident here where the driver "circumvented" that safety device (a common practice at that time) and then suffered a heart attack. But eventually, humans will be shown to be far less reliable and more error-prone that automated systems.

I do recall a TV show that featured a head-on collision with a VIA Rail passenger train and a Canadian National freight train in Canada. The crew of the freight train was at fault as the engineer had placed his lunchbox on the 'dead man's pedal', thereby circumventing the safety switch and then both the engineer and fireman (the train was diesel-powered) fell asleep. The conductor was in the caboose at the end of the train and also fell asleep, but was awaken by the collision. All three crewmembers of the freight train was experiencing sleep deprivation. The freight train was supposed to wait on a passing siding to let the VIA Rail passenger train pass by it, but ran thru the siding and back onto the single-track mainline. Both the engineer and fireman of the freight train died in the accident, the conductor of the freight train survived. This accident resulted in changes in how many hours crews were on and off the job, and the replacement of the 'dead man's pedal' with the 'alerter button'. This button is designed where at regular intervals it would start making a buzzing sound and the engineer had a certain amount of time to push the button, resetting the alarm. If he doesn't, the brakes automatically apply and bring the train to a stop. This has become a standard feature of locomotives manufactured today.

wholbr
August 10th, 2017, 04:22 AM
I would very much agree with all that is written in the posting by pware at #35 of this thread as much that is stated in regard to energy production is similar to the problems faced here in the UK. However, great emphasis has been placed in Britain on the generation of renewable electricity which is now having growing Input into overall energy production which has allowed for the planned closure of all coal fired power stations.

In the above the government has recently announced further plans for homeowners to gain a good incentive for solar power generated by them and fed into the national grid system for which those homeowners producing the power will be paid. Wind power generation is also now on a large scale, but tidal and hydro generation is seemingly going forward a much slower rate.

There is still a substantial way to go with all the above in regard to meeting the UK's winter power needs to any significant degree, but for summer requirements renewables are now playing a large and growing role in meeting all that is required.

Britain has now after much argument began the building of what will be the largest nuclear power station in Europe (Hinkley point). That stated, I am not to much in favour of that project as it is only approximately twelve miles from my home on the Bristol Channel coast “as the crow flies”. Another Chernobyl type incident will undoubtedly see us all glowing in the dark on this section of the coast (LOL).

In regard to autonomous vehicles, the trials of driverless heavy trucks which my company has been involved in by way of working alongside the UK Health & Safety Executive have gone very well. Without doubt the technology is most definitely there to have such vehicles operating commercially on roads in the not too distant future. Discussion within the HSE is centering on that within the next ten to twelve years a debate will arise as to whether human beings should be allowed to control vehicles while they are moving at all?

Bill