Showing posts with label Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cars. Show all posts

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Autonomous Cars and the Future of Cities

 With autonomous or even semi autonomous cars in 120mph+ pelotons on existing freeways and Musk 120mph skates in tunnels in LA, whole metro areas are sprawlsville.  The American life style will not be changed to urban living.  Ford, General Motors, and all the rest will still be around in 2100 promoting sprawl. 

 The car is the most important surviving public status symbol, and Americans at least are not going to give that up.  They will drive less especially locally but providing rides between urban nodes will still be an important status indicator.  Cities, especially new cities, will evolve out of the suburbs with high density urban nodes around regional amenities with complete urban services, restaurants, service establishments and high density housing at all price points for those who choose to live and possibly work in an urban node.   But the majority of the population will still be economically and ethnically segregated in single family homes and low density apartments in the suburbs. The current pattern for office commercial segregated in suburban campuses will continue for the forseeable future. Even working class cars will be high speed semi-autonomous and urban nodes will still require high density autonomous parking for residents and visitors.     

 Freeways will evolve to narrower lanes restricted to autonomous vehicles, with high speed lanes running in pelotons for efficiency and throughput.  Current freeways of three lanes or more with a breakdown lane in the center can in the near future convert to two or more high speed lanes, one transition lane and leave one wide lane with a breakdown lane for non- autonomous cars at existing speed limits and entrance and exit. Transition lanes would have restricted access and egress and would be separated from the conventional lane by a Jersey Barrier those shaped concrete vehicle diverters used in construction zones.  All that would be required to facilitate this transition would be to improve the roadbed in the high speed and transition lanes.  Autonomous cars exist today capable of 120-150 mph and transit vehicles soon will be once the need for them exists.    

 Autonomous cars can park in high density parking lots on floors limited to small SUVs by floor spacing, served by elevators.  Garages for autonomous vehicles only may be constructed over a major intersection with an existing freeway which is already served by transit and close to developed commercial centers.  The garage may be built over the freeway.  The passenger access floor will have bus clearance for larger vehicles also at high density enabled by autonomous control.  Pedestrian and bicycle access is over the existing sidewalk space on the cross street and transit access over a lane of the cross street.  Cars will enter from freeway access ramps to car lanes inside the garage next to the pedestrian/bikeway. Once passengers exit the car for local transportation and tell the car computer their expected departure time the car will join a cue to an elevator, tandem or more, at the far end of the garage to access parking floors. Exiting cars would use the same elevator with circulation on all floors in the same direction.  Driverless autonomous cabs would be available at the freeway nodes for those needing them. 

Infrequent transit nodes using grade separated bike, pedestrian, local transit and transit access car traffic as entry to the transit garage. This would create a local traffic and transit interface with high speed autonomous transit which would use existing on ramps to access the high speed lanes.  These transit nodes would evolve rapidly to high density urban centers.  Cities and suburbs should plan for and encourage these high density urban transit villages. 

 The Upper middle class will commute from their tract mansions to suburban commercial campuses, or to the city for work on the high speed freeways, using the existing freeway access and local streets for last few mile access as necessary.  

  Service workers and others with minimum wage employment will commute from now remote suburbs, car or vanpooling as needed where high speed transit is unavailable.  

  Depending on what happens with UBI and "Medicare for All" the workers displaced by robotics and the existing poor will die or move to now dead rural communities.  Assuming UBI and Medicare, the revived rural communities will become vibrant villages of local commerce and art most of which will generate excess funds for local amenities.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Future of Suburban Living

As the top 20% crowd into the cities, voluntarily as that is where all the good stuff is within walking distance including most of the jobs that support the top 20% what happens to the suburbs that they leave?  Property values crater, and it becomes reasonable for the bottom 80% to achieve the American Dream of suburban living.  Rents in the strip malls and local shopping centers crater along with the property values, and become affordable for bodegas, Dollar stores, and other services catering to the lower income groups.  Assuming existing transit is maintained, (roads don't matter) as travel outside the neighborhood is mainly for jobs serving the 20%.  The 20% will insure it is maintained as they don't use it anyway and they need the service people who are gentrified out of the city.  

The current suburban standard of 4-5 bedrooms and 2-3 baths will serve an extended family of many as well as it serves the current family of 3.  The family room or a big downstairs room will be turned into a dorm for the kids and the adults will occupy the 4-5 bedrooms.  The modern luxury kitchen will easily serve dozens as well or better than it serves 3.

One can expect the current suburban developments to become ethnic enclaves, since once the block is busted and prices crater further, friends and families will join the blockbuster and remake the development to serve their needs.  The fences will come down and the large backyards will connect to be a big playground for the neighborhood.

It is happening as we chat, many suburban neighborhoods and cities connected by transit to the urban core are now ethnic enclaves, and the white homeowners are taking the money and running while the money is still there.  The elderly to "Adult communities" and the working ethnics are blockbusting a new community for their ethnic group.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Users as People.

one thing that Mark [Zukerberg] said, a small note in the grand scheme of things, that still sits fresh in my mind every single week. “We need to stop calling peopleusers,” he said. “They’re not just there to use our products; we’re here to build things for them.”
People, not users.

I just drove off in my new car and I am parked in the pouring rain on the side of the freeway.  Where is the fucking defroster? 

Forgetting users were people almost cost Toyota their entry into the US Market. They designed an advanced, reliable, competitively priced car so different in all ways from Detroit that people couldn't use it intuitively. Similarly the BMW I-Drive. User satisfaction dropped to near zero. They had to solve the problem with a mandatory UX (human) trainer. 

In 1981 a salesperson (let’s call him Joe) in a big Toyota dealership at 57th St. and 11th Ave. in Manhattan tried to look busy at his desk as the suits from Toyota of N.  America came into the dealership and disappeared into the General Manager’s office to no avail as Joe was quickly called to come to the office.  Once there he was confronted by one of the Toyota execs with the question “What are you doing differently from all of the other salespeople here?”  The only thing he could think of was that he spent time at the next day delivery with the “User” to show them how everything on the car worked.  He knew this was different because he was criticized by the Sales Manager for being “Off the floor” at one point after spending more than an hour with a difficult customer.  The Corporate types had an “Aha moment” and dismissed Joe with a thank you. 

Shortly after they left the mystery was solved as Joe was called back to the GM office, and was asked if he could “explain how the car worked” to all the new car buyers.  The GM explained that the problem was the dealership’s location on one of the busiest intersections in the world was adversely affecting the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) which Toyota had recently implemented for all dealerships.  “Users” had no quiet streets to use to practice with their new car on and blamed the car for being unfriendly to people. 

The genesis of the “Delivery Experience” for new car “Users” seems to be at that time.  The volume at the dealership was too high for one person and Joe was given an assistant for overflow (“Ben”) who was “Too nice” to his clients to be a good salesperson.   A manual was written to guide his presentation but Joe’s follow-up showed that Ben’s too nice attitude was much more important than his inability to follow the manual he was given and Joe became the overflow delivery guy. Ben went on to make a nice career in the delivery position at several Toyota dealerships. 

Joe went on to different things but remained in new car sales as a moonlight position.  “Selling cars is like eating M&Ms for a sales and marketing professional.  Not much nourishment per close but you get a lot of them.”   Much later Joe applied as a salesperson at a Lexus dealership across the country and was told he was overqualified and besides salespeople had to deliver their own cars at Lexus according to “The Delivery Manual.” Joe asked what that was, and the SM sneered and said do you think you can follow this?  Joe skimmed through it and recognized it as essentially a copy of the manual written for his assistant.  I suppose I could since I wrote it, he replied. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Behind the Wheel - 2011 BMW 535i and 550i

Behind the Wheel - 2011 BMW 535i and 550i - Review -

"Even the mildly uncommunicative helm didn’t prevent the 5 from turning impressive racetrack laps or from gulping huge helpings of twisting curves on public roads. Crank the BMW to its Sport Plus chassis setting, and it’s hard to imagine anything in this class outrunning a 550i with a manual transmission. Facing a 1,000-mile journey and given a choice of any car in this fiercely competitive segment — Jaguar XF, Mercedes E-Class, Infiniti M, Audi A6 — I’d grab the BMW’s chunky key fob and never let go.

Yes, some people buy a BMW for the badge. But the real prestige of the 5 Series, and its continuing superiority, has nothing to do with the badge, and everything to do with what’s inside."

I will keep my Volvo S60R thanks. The customization of removing the front spoiler lip so it slides smoothly off the curb that was inadvertently parked on makes it a super practical family car, and while its mere 300 HP won't keep me up with the 550 on the track, if the track is tight the lighter weight might take away the 550's advantage in the straight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008