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Autonomous Dump Trucks Are Coming To Canada's Oil Sands

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the let's-teach-the-machines-to-devour-our-planet dept.

Canada 165

Daniel_Stuckey writes "According to a Bloomberg report, Canadian oil sands giant Suncor, which is "Canada's largest energy company by market value," is currently testing haul trucks that are run by computers. Extracting bitumen from sands requires first digging up an enormous amount of the sand itself, with about two tons of sands required to produce one barrel of oil. Digging up all of that sand is the job of huge excavators, which then offload into gigantic haul trucks that transport sands to extraction plants. Time is money, and in this case being faster means carrying as much sand as possible. Haul trucks can carry hundreds of tons at a time, and are in constant motion, moving back and forth between excavator and extraction plant."

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Will they run Windows? (4, Funny)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#45305901)

I'm looking forward to the remake of "Christine" with a truck the size of a house in the title role.

Re:Will they run Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306155)

Will they run Windows?

Oddly enough, parts of them do, fortunately, not the parts that matter.

A lot of the scheduling and interface software that operators use to send instructions to the trucks runs on Windows hosts. In this instance, Windows fragility is less important, since a loss of view does not mean a loss of control, aka Christining.

Having said that, I have no idea why this is news. These trucks have been in use in Australian mines for years.

Re:Will they run Windows? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306215)

Will they run Windows?

Not without updated drivers.

Re:Will they run Windows? (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 10 months ago | (#45306391)

I'm looking forward to the remake of "Christine" with a truck the size of a house in the title role.

You can get that even with human operators.

I worked on a mine that was being established in a very flat and remote part of Australia - not saying where, to protect the guilty. We had a number of Caterpillar 793s (dump trucks with about 2,600hp engines and 350 tonne loaded weight), including two set up as water carts with sprayers and water cannon for consolidating haul roads and dust suppression. Wile we were in construction phase, they were being used for siteworks, and to build the runway we'd eventually fly in and out of.

One night at about 1am, I had to go out to a water bore pump close to the partly-built airstrip, and saw the two 350 tonne water trucks well away from the runway, bouncing through the bush with their water cannons firing full-power pulses into the scrub. I stopped them and started asking some very pointed questions.

It turned out they'd seen a rabbit hop across the runway, and being very bored, had decided to try to shoot it with their water cannons. It then became competitive, and they ended up in a sort of tag match with the confused and very damp rabbit....

Re:Will they run Windows? (1)

drgould (24404) | about 10 months ago | (#45306539)

I'm looking forward to the remake of "Christine" with a truck the size of a house in the title role.

More like a remake of Killdozer [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Will they run Windows? (1)

rewindustry (3401253) | about 10 months ago | (#45306749)

yes, at least they did. the euclids at kemess in canada literally failed to boot, at least once in my personal experience, costing at least a day total downtime, in this specific case as a result of a failed microsoft office upgrade. sometimes the parts do matter - in this case the trucks refused to run because they were unable to offload, and thus reset, the daily logs, after having been shut down for the night. this happened, as far as memory serves, because an automatic microsoft update broke the outdated truck operating system's connection to the site's servers.

Re: Will they run Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307597)

Damn, just pay some humans with mouths to feed, I think this is just greedy... Their is a time to automate, but this isn't it... Sooner or later productivity and efficiency will be our downfall... Nothing gained except more profit for the few, not a boost to the economy as a whole!

Powered by Gentoo? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305923)

So whats the operating system on these dump trucks? Gentoo? NetBSD? Windows CE?

Re:Powered by Gentoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306491)

If you'd read TFA you'd know they're running a modified version of LynuxWorks RTOS in the trucks, but all of the scheduling is done remotely using servers running Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012.

Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305953)

Are these the Canadian oil sands that the United States keeps referring to as "North American Oil" so that Americans don't feel so desperate about their energy situation?

Re:Oil Sands (1, Informative)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 10 months ago | (#45306017)

US oil production has consistently increased throughout Obama's presidency, after decreasing throughout Bush's presidency.

There's nothing "desperate" about our energy situation. Gasoline is $3.20/gallon- a lot cheaper than in Canada.

It's convenient for us to buy Canadian oil because of the easy transport. If you don't want our money, many other countries will be happy to take it.

Re:Oil Sands (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#45306925)

If you don't want our money, many other countries will be happy to take it.

No longer true, to be honest. People (read countries) still take it, but they're no longer happy about it. In fact a lot of them are planning to move away from it. The biggest customer for US Treasuries is the US Federal Reserve nowadays . Go figure.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306045)

Yes, it's the same oil sands Canada keeps referring to as "North American Oil" so that Americans don't feel the need to overrun Canuckistan.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306153)

overrun Canuckistan

like, over a long weekend or something?

what good is being a "superpower" if you can't ridicule your client states? :) :)

Re:Oil Sands (3, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about 10 months ago | (#45306677)

Careful now... last time you declared war on Canada, your White House was burned to the ground.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306901)

And the Canadians partied in New Orleans. Overrun much?

Re:Oil Sands (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307295)

Care to name a US military initiative which didn't take significantly longer then planned, and cost a lot more then what congress was told?
That is assuming congress was told in advance as US laws requires approval form congress before declaring war.

Re:Oil Sands (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 10 months ago | (#45306067)

I've never heard them referred to as such. Also, the United States is a legal entity, an abstraction. It cannot speak, much less "refer" to anything using one particular phrase. That's a rather absurd anthropomorphization. The United States never says anything, and its people say a lot of different things, often contradictory.

In any case, aside from a few confused individuals, most people I know of understand that oil is a global market, so the question of where the oil is located has little to do with anyone's energy situation. Domestic oil is only more valuable in that extracting it and transporting it creates and supports local jobs. It has no impact on the price you pay for the finished product, that goes to whoever will pay the most for it, anywhere on Earth that can be reached by a tanker.

Re:Oil Sands (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 10 months ago | (#45306205)

> Also, the United States is a legal entity, an abstraction. It cannot speak, much less "refer" to anything using one particular phrase. That's a rather absurd anthropomorphization.

But its corporations are people.

Re:Oil Sands (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 10 months ago | (#45307789)

Yeah, keep reiterating that tired lie until you actually start to believe it. Please post a link to any Supreme Court case which makes this statement true and quote the relevant sections.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#45306367)

creates and supports local jobs

That is the justification for any number of evils. Tax breaks, zoning variances, pollution exceptions, wetland destruction, whatever. In this case the only jobs created will be for truck automation programmers in India.

I am haveing an dobut. Please to do the needful (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 10 months ago | (#45306455)

Indian programmers are well respected for their technical skills, but I'm concerned about their domain knowledge here.

I've never been to India but I've seen several TV programs and youtube videos and I still can't work out whether they're supposed to drive on the left or the right.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307415)

Wake up. In the United States Corporations Are People Too (TM). So, ipso facto, the government is a people too.

and this government, even though it does not walk softly, does carry a big stick. Bend over and say good by to the Environment.

It makes me more comfortable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306191)

The thought of sending my money to Canada is a Hell of a lot more comforting than sending it to some backward Middle Eastern shithole that treats their women worse than their cattle. Now putting mayonaise on French fries, well....

Re:It makes me more comfortable. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#45306937)

In Quebec we prefer salt and vinegar on fries.

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306457)

Are these the Canadian oil sands that the United States keeps referring to as "North American Oil" so that Americans don't feel so desperate about their energy situation?

Speaking as an American, we don't feel desperate about our energy situation
because we have the most powerful and technologically advanced military
in the world.

And if your country has oil and we want it, we will come and take it and if you
try to stop us we will turn you into a corpse.

NOW who is nervous, smartass ?

Re:Oil Sands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307167)

Know what, its all good though because after the oil crisis in the 1970's the US got things in order and are no longer dependent on foreign oil right?
Don't take my word for it, read your own publications: http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/foreign_oil_dependence.cfm [eia.gov]

Ever heard of NATO or understand what these sort of "agreements" stand for? So you are advocating attacking another NATO member?
Perhaps you can cite some figures about "turning people into corpses" and provide the loss numbers on both sides?

Last time I was in NYC (several years ago) I noticed "threat level" signs posted indicating the current "risk level".
I haven't see these in any other country, not sure if this is an indication of "nervousness" or not.

War is rarely the answer, its easier to just buy the oil on the open market

Drone rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305955)

... what defence strategies exists against it?

Obsolete Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305959)

Gradually, bit by bit, each human worker in the economy is becoming obsoleted. This is pretty cool technology, and if the way our economy and politics worked was similarly cool this would be an undeniably great thing.
However, socially this means reduction in employment, and reduction in wages paid for others. Steadily, over time, we have broken down professions and it will be increasingly hard to find things humans are actually useful for as employees or business operators in 'the economy.' What then?

Re:Obsolete Humans (4, Interesting)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#45306073)

This is a common discussion, but fortunately in the oil industry it won't happen for a long time.

The oil industry is notoriously slow-moving. The executives do not like new tech. New tech is untested, unproven. That means risky, and risky means both lawsuits and lost production time. Then, once the executives finally sign off on it and it gets built, the roughnecks simply don't use it, especially with automatic systems. Why automate something they've been doing well enough for decades, they say. I've watched a worker switch off a million-dollar heave compensator (adjusts crane speed based on ocean wave motion, so a bobbing ship can smoothly lay a load onto the still seafloor) because "the computer don't know what it's doin'."

Other professions might lose out to automation. But the oil industry roughnecks will be working for a long time yet.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 10 months ago | (#45306123)

This has more to do with truck drivers of all stripes than it does with the oil industry.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about 10 months ago | (#45307127)

It will me MUCH longer for these autonomous trucks to show up on public highways than private quarries and oil fields with no humans within a mile.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

joeyjerker1 . (3418255) | about 10 months ago | (#45307455)

I really don't think it makes much sense. The entire idea of an autonomous haul truck is that it can change immediately to a different location, different material, loaded a different way. And if you've ever worked on a large mining site or construction that can happen multiple times in a single shift. Now I would think some sort of rail or ore car system would work in certain situations, but I can't imagine even with a team of genius computer programmers, the they could program these trucks as if they had a driver. Point a to point B okay, but there is no way they could program fast enough to the ever changing situations that a haul truck encounters every day.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 10 months ago | (#45307195)

This is a common discussion, but fortunately in the oil industry it won't happen for a long time. The oil industry is notoriously slow-moving. The executives do not like new tech. New tech is untested, unproven.

When I was a kid in the 80s I remember reading about how many of the advancements in deepwater production or seismic imaging then common in the fossil fuel industry would have been considered science fiction in the 50s. It's always been my (admittedly casual) observation that the FF business is more cutting edge in testing out new techniques than many other sectors of industry - perhaps not as much as the computer sector, much more so than the automotive.

This doesn't really apply to on the ground occupations like roughnecks as it'll be ages before we can deploy bots that can climb gantries etc.

Re:Obsolete Humans (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | about 10 months ago | (#45306231)

For about the last two or three decades, as more and more jobs and manufacturing have moved offshore, I've asked people: what will you do for that large swath of the population who used to work for Ford, or Whirlpool, or General Electric, and who now are literally unemployable?

Forty or fifty years ago "ordinary" people could take a job at the local factory, make enough to support a family and buy a house, and know that after 35 years they would have a good pension to retire on.

When I say "ordinary" I mean the people who won't ever go to university, who will never become computer programmers or doctors, and who surely aren't about to be "entrepreneurs." The people who used to be called "working stiffs" or "blue collar workers."

Once the blue collar jobs are gone, what do you do with these people - say a quarter of your population? Wal-mart jobs? Call centers? Waving pizza signs on street corners?

Re:Obsolete Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306331)

Prison.
It's the new slavery.

Re:Obsolete Humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306337)

Infantrymen in World War III

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

cusco (717999) | about 10 months ago | (#45306469)

Soylent Green?

These are the people that the elites, like Bush the Elected, have been observed to call "useless eaters". Many of the decent service jobs, such as truck driver, newspaper reporter, radio disk jockey, cashier, and the like, are also going away. I don't know what my nephews and nieces kids are going to do for a living.

Re:Obsolete Humans (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#45306535)

Forty or fifty years ago "ordinary" people could take a job at the local factory, make enough to support a family and buy a house, ...

Forty of fifty years ago, median wages (adjusted for inflation) were lower, labor force participation rates were significantly less, the median house was 30% smaller than today, and that house was much less likely to be owned by the person that lives in it. Your nostalgia for "the good old days" isn't supported by the facts.

Once the blue collar jobs are gone, what do you do with these people

Most manufacturing jobs are already gone, and since total labor force participation has gone UP, it is clear that these people have already found other jobs.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about 10 months ago | (#45307067)

You're spot on there.

I'm sure there's the correlation between elimination of (relatively) decent-waged manufacturing jobs and the increasing number of people who work two jobs, two income households, etc is an anomaly.

What happens to our consumer driven economy when a large swatch of consumers can't afford to consume?

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about 10 months ago | (#45307557)

Replaced by jobs in the low paying service sector. So while labour force participation has increased somewhat, real US household incomes have remained almost stationary for the bottom 80% of US workers.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45306365)

Gradually, bit by bit, each human worker in the economy is becoming obsoleted. This is pretty cool technology, and if the way our economy and politics worked was similarly cool this would be an undeniably great thing.
However, socially this means reduction in employment, and reduction in wages paid for others. Steadily, over time, we have broken down professions and it will be increasingly hard to find things humans are actually useful for as employees or business operators in 'the economy.' What then?

Fortunately, humans always want more goods and services. If 100% of existing goods and services were provided by robot, we could still have full employment providing more.

I believe eventually we'll all have jobs providing consulting services to one another on which of all this free stuff made by robots would please us most. And the sexbots aren't going to program themselves, you know.

Re:Obsolete Humans (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#45306389)

However, socially this means reduction in employment, and reduction in wages paid for others.

People have been believed this nonsense for so long that there is a term for it: The Lump of Labor Fallacy [wikipedia.org] . If automation actually caused impoverishment (as you claim) then Europe, America and Japan would be starving, and Ethiopia and Afghanistan would be the envy of the world.

So God ... (3, Funny)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 10 months ago | (#45305967)

So God put the sand in the Vaseline?

Self guidance vehicles already exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305975)

They are called railroads.

Re:Self guidance vehicles already exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306061)

There's a reason they use trucks, the grade on the pits makes the number of rail switchbacks required infeasible.

Not to mention the material under the trackbed would be sand, prone to upheaval thanks to the extremes of Alberta weather.

Rails work well for a lot of things but the oilsands project is not one of them.

Re:Self guidance vehicles already exist (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 10 months ago | (#45306161)

Large belted conveyor?

Re:Self guidance vehicles already exist (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45307615)

Nope. Along with the grade and other factors, rail or conveyor are not as flexible as trucks. The locations from which they dig change too rapidly as they move through the mine site to set up a fixed conveyance.

oH NoEs TeH eViRoNmEnT!!!1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45305997)

Autonomous vehicles.... the very first use will be "destroying the Earth" on behalf of "capitalist" pig-dogs.

Bet you didn't see that one coming.

LOL.

Canadians... We're really concerned about the Environment and all, but we've decided not to mimic your decline.

Public Service Annoucemnt (5, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 10 months ago | (#45306037)

If you drive a vehicle for a living, start training for another job ASAP. This is the tip of the iceberg. I honestly think that in 25 years zero humans will be paid to drive a vehicle.

Re:Public Service Annoucemnt (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45306489)

Most people who drive vehicles for a living weren't trained to begin with...

Re:Public Service Annoucemnt (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 10 months ago | (#45306605)

That's irrelevant (and not true). Driving jobs are already starting to disappear. People who are currently driving for a living can either train for a skilled job, or accept an unskilled job that will almost certainly be a pay decrease.

Re:Public Service Annoucemnt (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 10 months ago | (#45307691)

Driving jobs are already starting to disappear.

Depends on where you are, there's a huge demand for driving jobs in Canada still. The problem and the gutting and cutting of driving jobs comes from companies who hire drivers who are trained in fly-by-night schools, or where companies try to cut corners by bringing in unskilled labor from the 3rd world and run them through the fly-by-night causing lovely accidents and said company eventually self destructs from insurance costs.

I looked into professional driving 5ish years ago, and there are days I wish I'd gone that route. In Canada at least, the demand for transported goods has hit the point where the government is now allowing double length to be pulled on the highways between 10pm and 5:30am.

Rio Tinto has done this for a while - Australia (5, Informative)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about 10 months ago | (#45306095)

Rio Tinto has used autonomous trucks on some of its Iron Ore mines in the Pilbara region (north west Australia) for a number of years now (trials began in 2008). They also use it in conjunction with driver-less trains to haul the ore to the ports. In about April this year they announced that the driveless trucks had shifted 100 million tonnes of ore#1.

For those who think it will obsolete humans, I believe they are dead wrong. It will obsolete some skill sets, but not people. It creates other jobs and frees up labour resources for other uses. It is no different to the Scythe. Prior to its invention there was a much higher demand for labour to harvest fields, the scythe allowed the finite resource that is labour to be used somewhere else. If you believe self driving trucks will make people obsolete, what you are actually saying is that driving trucks is all that person is capable of. If that is the case I obviously have a much higher opinion of people than you do.

1 - http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/rio-s-driverless-trucks-move-100-million-tonnes [miningaustralia.com.au]

Re: Rio Tinto has done this for a while - Australi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306329)

Iron Ore Company do Canada (partially owned by Rio Tinto) has run driverless trains since the 1960's in Labrador.

Re:Rio Tinto has done this for a while - Australia (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 10 months ago | (#45306553)

" If you believe self driving trucks will make people obsolete, what you are actually saying is that driving trucks is all that person is capable of. "

No, and your Asserted Conclusion does not make it so.

The world is full of capable people. The ideal business has no workers, and tech improvements entail job destruction but do not automatically entail job replacement.

  The large, manned mining trucks replaced smaller trucks which replaced rail. Mechanized mining replaced manual digging and large machines replaced more small machines. Now automated control will replace meat in the cab. The last to fall will be complex mechanic/welder jobs required to keep the machines running, but the number of machines is reduced as their individual size increases so this won't mean more jobs.

Re:Rio Tinto has done this for a while - Australia (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45307667)

Some people can't do anything more valuable than driving a truck. They will be rendered unemployable either when the tech for self-driving trucks gets cheap or when the government makes them artificially uncompetitive through minimum wage laws and other laws that raise the cost of employing humans instead of robots.

Bottom of the barrel (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about 10 months ago | (#45306225)

If anybody still needs evidence that we're past peak oil, this is it.

Re-read that summary: two tons of sand have to be hauled away to the processing center just to get a single barrel of oil.

And remember Deepwater Horizon? The rig that went kablooie in the Gulf? The wellhead was a mile below the surface of the ocean, and the top of the deposits were seven miles below bedrock.

Long gone are the days when you had to be careful with your pickaxe in Texas lest you set off a gusher. We're now washing two tons of sand per barrel of oil just to feed the habit.

Oh, sure. There's still lots of oil left in the ground. About half as much as there was at the start of the industrial revolution, in fact. But it's all the nasty low-quality expensive shit that we would have laughed and turned up our noses at in the '70s. But not today.

Worst of all, we're now consuming oil at a faster rate than ever before in history. The only way we could keep the remaining half of reserves to last another century is if we decreased production by 2% - 3% annually, same as it used to grow. Can you imagine a century's worth of that kind of contraction?

No?

Then get ready for price shocks and the crash to end all crashes as we run out of what little is left in mere decades, and not that many.

Cheers,

b&

Re:Bottom of the barrel (3, Informative)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about 10 months ago | (#45306395)

Sorry, but no. I directly service the resources industry and there are way to many startup companies hitting easy to access reserves to say we are about to run out. No it's not the same as it was with pressurised reservoirs at shallow depths but this is exactly the same argument that was used to say that certain areas were mined out 100 years ago. Many of the precious metals mines that operate today operate where previous people thought they had got everything. Simply put they hadn't even come close.

We are much better at sucking stuff out of the ground than we used to be. We can do it faster, cheaper and easier than ever before. Yes all the truly basic reserves were tapped but the efficiency of old extraction practices were so low that people are now going back to old reserves and extracting far more than the original operator did before they declared them exhausted.

Lots of people much much smarter than I have identified proven and probably reserves that will keep the world going for a long time yet.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45306431)

What happens if we pass "peak oil" and no one notices? If you haven't been keeping track, supply is "not an issue" at current prices, and current oil prices seem unlikely to cause the collapse of society (there is more oil available in sands and shale than perhaps you realize - perhaps more than all the liquid oil there ever was). Perhaps oil usage will peak soon: eventually some other energy storage technology is bound to take over for transportation, but not in a bad way.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306477)

Re-read that summary: two tons of sand have to be hauled away to the processing center just to get a single barrel of oil.

As qdaku points out elsewhere in this thread, two tons of sand is about a cubic yard; i.e., very heavy, but not that much volume wise.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306577)

two tons of sand have to be hauled away to the processing center just to get a single barrel of oil.

2 Tons of oil soaked sand is not that much sand and would fit in the back of my pickup truck.
2 tons of DRY sand is about 1.5 cubic feet. A 3ft x 3ft x 3ft block sand...smaller if it is soaked in oil.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306591)

Edit: 2 tons of dry sand is 1.5 cubic YARDS.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 10 months ago | (#45307315)

Not so sure about that. 2 tons of water is about 1.8 cubic meters. Oil floats on water, and therefore is less dense than water. So 2 tons of oil would probably be pretty close to 2 cubic metres. A quick Google gave a density of 790 kg/m3. 1 ton is 907 kg. So 2 tons of oil takes up 2.3 cubic meters.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307765)

So 2 tons of oil takes up 2.3 cubic meters.

But according to the OP, you don't get 2 tons of oil, you get 1 barrel of oil from 2 tons of sand and oil.

I'm pretty sure 1 barrel of oil doesn't weight 2 tons.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45306589)

Uh, what?!?

One barrel of crude oil has a weight of 138.8 kilograms or 306 pounds, assuming we use a kiloton of sand to produce it, I'm still not concerned.

14%? I'll take it.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45306597)

TWO tons.

Fine.

7%.

I'm still happy.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

FridayBob (619244) | about 10 months ago | (#45306629)

Yes, and the Koch brothers et al. will stop at nothing to keep the world addicted to fossil fuels for as long as possible: the more scarce it becomes, the more its price goes up and the more they earn. If it's up to them there will always be enough of their toxic products to sell, so it's going to be up to the rest of us to kick this filthy habit before it ruins everything for us.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 10 months ago | (#45307869)

If you aren't using a computer that has absolutely no plastics then congratulations. Otherwise, thanks for being a hypocrite.

Humanity does not need much oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306727)

I would argue the industrialized world does not 'need' as much oil as it currently uses.

Thanks to the consumer electronics industry, battery electric cars are now viable, but merely somewhat expensive, transportation. Overhead wires could be installed for large trucks, and trains, to electrify them instead. Ships could go back to running on coal, or wind. Electricity can be provided by giant nuclear breeder reactors. Plastics could be made from sugar. Now, if the world were running low on natural gas, and coal, then humanity would be in trouble.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306809)

a) oil usage is declining in the US (although it's admittedly increasing in some less developed countries)
b) fracking is pretty effective
c) lots of natural gas out there, especially in the US
d) have you looked at the dramatically improving efficiency of solar in price/watt lately? it's becoming pretty economical
e) two tons of sand per barrel is really not as much as it sounds. Picture it volumetrically -- that is some seriously oily sand

To summarize, educate yourself first, post second.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 10 months ago | (#45306899)

We can only hope.

Meanwhile, why aren't they building a railway or conveyor system? Trucks are expensive to run, even robot trucks.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

joeyjerker1 . (3418255) | about 10 months ago | (#45307511)

"railway or conveyor system" i agree 100%! The the entire idea of having a autonomous vehicle is the fact that it didn't change direction or mode pretty much in an instant. There is no way they can program fast enough for a large mining site, logging operation, construction anything! it's just geeks trying to prove they can do something but it really work in a fast-paced operation

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

joeyjerker1 . (3418255) | about 10 months ago | (#45307537)

I apologize for my voice recognition prog.fill in the blanks I think you can still get my drift.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (1)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45306965)

Then get ready for price shocks and the crash to end all crashes as we run out of what little is left in mere decades, and not that many.

Why will that happen? We're already seeing one effect of "peak oil" that precludes that: higher oil prices when adjusted for inflation. For example, current oil prices [inflationdata.com] are roughly 4 times more expensive when adjusted for inflation than they were in the 90s.

Re:Bottom of the barrel (2)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 10 months ago | (#45307775)

You know I have a book here about the history of the oil industry that references 'peak oil' was to happen in the early 1900's and every decade or so after that.

so a cubic meter (1)

qdaku (729578) | about 10 months ago | (#45306235)

two tons is not that much. Assuming metric, sand/gravel is around 2000 kg / cubic meter, or you know, 2 tonnes. So really the above is saying that you require a cubic meter of sand to create a barrel of oil.

Maybe I would understand this better if it was given to me in library of congresses.

qd.

Re:so a cubic meter (2)

bobwalt (2500092) | about 10 months ago | (#45306453)

Two tons dug up from a giant strip mine produces extremely low grade crude hard to process into gasoline. This is one reason that the main affect the keystone pipeline will have is to increase the cost of heating oil in the Midwest as the source of their heating oil is shipped out for export.. The second would be to increase the profits of the various energy companies, it is unlikely to provide any help to the average consumer and may, indeed, cost them money.

Re:so a cubic meter (1)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45306499)

It takes 1.2 x 10^(-7) cubic furlongs of sand to make 4 firkins of oil, so about an 8-9 to 1 reduction.

Thin End of the Wedge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306259)

I guess with the rise of autonomous vehicles we'll see a lot more of this sort of thing. The reason these drivers get paid so much is their willingness to tolerate fairly bad conditions, living in remote mining camps working 3 weeks solid at a time. It's pretty rough, but for many people it's an opportunity to work around their less than fortunate start in life.

As the technology improves we'll see more and more of these jobs automated into redundancy.It's typically argued that new jobs will appear to absorb the labour capacity, but you do wonder when the speed of automation will completely outstrip the ability of most humans to learn new tasks, or even when all the jobs below a certain capability level will be automated. The office where I work has recently had to make redundancies of several intellectually disabled people because there was simply nothing they could do that couldn't be done better by machines.

I'd hope that the Australian government is carefully monitoring this sort of thing; although I don't believe they should block the use of these tools, some thought should definitely be given to the economic impact of removing these jobs from society.

Re:Thin End of the Wedge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306563)

As the technology improves we'll see more and more of these jobs automated into redundancy.It's typically argued that new jobs will appear to absorb the labour capacity, but you do wonder when the speed of automation will completely outstrip the ability of most humans to learn new tasks, or even when all the jobs below a certain capability level will be automated. The office where I work has recently had to make redundancies of several senior managers because there was simply nothing they could do that couldn't be done better by machines.

FTFY.

South Park reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306281)

"Theyyy took our jobbbsss!"

Re:South Park reference (1)

c-A-d (77980) | about 10 months ago | (#45306479)

Durkk a durrrr!

Re:South Park reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306593)

That's because General Chao's chicken.

Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | about 10 months ago | (#45306353)

2 tons of sand for one barrel of oil? With all the processes needed to get the sand and process it that sure doesn't sound like it makes monetary sense to even extract the oil in the first place... can someone help me understand what I'm missing?

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306463)

That it costs less than ~$65 to process 2 tons of sand?

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306485)

can someone help me understand what I'm missing?

Pump-prices.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (1)

c-A-d (77980) | about 10 months ago | (#45306501)

You're missing that there's money to be made doing it. As long as there are enough profits to be made, there'll be oil extracted from those sands.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#45306523)

You're under the mistaken impression that a "ton" is a large unit. When it comes to oil, 2 tons is nothing. 2 tons, as stated above, is about a cubic meter of sand. 2 tons is about a quarter of a cubic meter of steel. 2 tons is...jeez, I can't even think of an example. 2 tons is just insignificant.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306657)

Exactly. Or to compare like units. 2 tons of sand is 1000 litres. A barrel of oil is appox 160 litres. With that much oil in every cubic metre it's easy to see the potential for efficient extraction. The sand is naturally saturated with crude oil. The Athabasca oil sands are like the worlds largest natural disaster. They are cleaning it up by separating the oil from the sand.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 10 months ago | (#45307515)

You're under the mistaken impression that a "barrel" is a large unit. Yeah, it's "only" 2 tons per barrel --- but barrels are generally counted by the billions per year. One barrel gives an SUV gas tank fill-up or two. And you're moving, processing, and dumping the noxious waste from two tons of sludge for just *that*.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 10 months ago | (#45307907)

Seems like the "noxious waste" is mostly sand. As for dumping it, it will most likely end up back where it came from. Major environmental disaster there.

Re:Wait, how does this make $$ Sense? (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 10 months ago | (#45307247)

2 tonnes isn't a particularly impressive volume or weight. Humans are used to thinking in terms of what they can lift manually, which means nothing on an industrial scale.

money better spent on sofa's and couches (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 10 months ago | (#45306705)

in dealing with that male inferiority complex that leads
to an irresistable urge to drive around in a hummer.

Re:money better spent on sofa's and couches (1)

joeyjerker1 . (3418255) | about 10 months ago | (#45307847)

Why even comment.Guys with big trucks is like decades old joke.We were talking about computer controlled "autonomous" trucks in mining and perhaps other operations.I could care less if a guy drives a hummer,a prius,or a yugo!quit being a tard!

Re:money better spent on sofa's and couches (1)

joeyjerker1 . (3418255) | about 10 months ago | (#45307905)

To some this is our livelyhood,and as much as i respect many on 'slashdot' I would hope u wouldnt disrespect others not like u,ive driven trucks and worked at a number of mining sites,and theres still a # of friends who call me a geek

so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45306783)

So what, we have had automatic ports for years - a crane driver points a laser at box on a ship confirms the number on it is then the rest is automatic; the lifting; the stacking on the quayside; the putting it on a lorry or another ship.

We will have automatic cars soon - they don't crash http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car

Thats 21 gallons of crude oil per tonne - to too bad at all.

Not just driving (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 10 months ago | (#45306837)

I don't think that people realize the tsunami of change that is coming through automation. Basically if you do something repetitive and with a basic set of rules then your job is probably going bye bye. A list of jobs that comes to mind, almost all assembly line manufacturing, warehouse work, much in the way of machining, much in the way of welding, some construction such as many parts of the road construction business, cleaning, waiters, cooks, security, almost all of agriculture, things like baggage handling, most retail work such as stocking shelves, checkouts, and of course many driving jobs such as trucking, taxi, pizza delivery.

This all comes down to three simple questions, can it be done better, more reliably, and cheaper?

Each of these questions will have interesting twists. I suspect that in the above case of the robot trucks that they will occasionally screw up and not want to cross a puddle or some stupidity but that over all costs will drop and consistent productivity will be, on average, much higher. The same with say replacing a cook with a robot; it might not be better than the best cooks but as long as it is better than average, costs less, and the owner doesn't have to worry about it showing up on time then bye bye cooks.

But again the key is that robots will be so much better at certain things as to make them far more valuable then a simple spreadsheet analysis might indicate. In the case of a robot cook, if it is always preparing food in an extremely consistent way and always there then you might think that it isn't much better than a chef who only misses 2 days a year and only has 2 off days per year. But the reality is that an off day or a long wait due to a missing cook could kill off a few regular customers resulting in a much larger loss than the few nights directly impacted.

The next impact will be that robots have the ultimate case of OCD. So if you want you could have the robots go out into the field and pick the bugs, one at a time, off your plants. This is simply something that humans won't do as they would lose their minds. The same with things like cooking. A robot could place exactly 23 onions onto a certain dish placed in (artistically designed) exacting locations. A table in the restaurant could be told that their meals will be ready in 6 minutes 3 seconds as the chef has plotted the temperatures of the meat and knows exactly how long each step is going to take.

A simple example of this sort of variation having an impact can be observed with the medical helicopters that fly over my house. One of the pilots sets the collective wrong and the helicopter is noisy. He also is ponderous about leaving the helipad and flies fairly slowly. The other pilot lifts off and in one nice smooth movement turns, speeds up, retracts the gear, and is off like a flash. The landings are basically the same thing in reverse. I suspect the patient survival rates between the two pilots is very different.

No No No! (1)

chill (34294) | about 10 months ago | (#45307225)

This is an illusion and not actually happening. You see, they haven't built the Keystone XL pipeline (north segment), yet. As long as they don't build that, the dirty Alberta oil sands will stay in the ground. Daryl Hannah told me so. Madison wouldn't lie, would she? (Elle Driver now, that's another story!)

Spark Watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45307613)

Check this out if you're curious about the oil sands - sparkwatch.ca

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