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Is Google CEO's "Tiny Bubble Car" Yahoo CEO's "Little Bubble Car"?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the otherwise-would-have-been-huge-and-square-I-guess dept.

Transportation 190

theodp (442580) writes "Back in 2011, then-Google VP and now-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer brainstormed with BMW to sketch out an idea she had for self-driving 'little bubbles' that could ease office commutes. Here's Mayer's pitch from a BMW film short: 'All I really need is a little bubble that drives itself and when it runs into something, it doesn't hurt that much...and...you know, like it doesn't actually take up that much fuel because it's so lightweight and it's good for the environment for that reason.' So, with Google's newly-built, steering wheel-less self-driving car being described as a 'tiny bubble-car', one wonders if Google CEO Larry Page's "Tiny Bubble Car" has its roots in Mayer's 'Little Bubble Car,' especially considering the striking similarity of Mayer's concept car sketch and Google's built vehicle." Seems to me there's been plenty of concept art (as well as actual tiny bubble-like cars, even if they generallly have had steering wheels) for car designers to draw on.

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It's more Total Recall's Johnny Cab (2)

mozumder (178398) | about 6 months ago | (#47141877)

Without the mannequin driver of course..

"DRIVE!!"

"I do not understand that address"

"GO! DRIVE!!!"

OTher way around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141881)

Or maybe Mayer was told about the concept at Google?

Re:OTher way around? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141915)

Well, yeah. That's even in the summary. It says "then-Google VP" in the summary. Again, this is one of those stupid articles that 's carefully worded to make it look like something completely normal is actually a terrible conspiracy by Google.

Look, if you want to make Google look bad, just point people at its search engine. That's enough. You don't have to do anything else. You certainly don't have to make up stupid conspiracies that fall apart as soon as you process the words and understand what's actually being said.

Re:OTher way around? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 6 months ago | (#47142063)

You mean Marissa Mayer didn't come up with the idea, all by herself?!!?!

Seriously, you'll be telling me these executives are just morons who couldn't tie their shoelaces without a team doing all the work behind them, while the executive pops up to take all the credit.

And then you'll tell me Bill Gates didn't write Windows all by himself either!!!

Re:OTher way around? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142341)

Actually, Bill himself didn't write any part of Windows.

Do you... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141889)

work for Apple? Just because someone had an idea a few years ago, and someone else makes it a reality years later... its a CAR, its supposed to look like other cars.

Re:Do you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142051)

work for Apple? Just because someone had an idea a few years ago, and someone else makes it a reality years later... its a CAR, its supposed to look like other cars.

It actually look quite a bit different than most other cars, but that aside, it is quite an achievement to bring Apple into this. Some people seem to be very touchy about anything that can be perceived as criticism of Google. I didn't read this as negative towards Google at all, it is just a story noting the not very surprising fact that Google's car project started when Merissa Mayer worked on it at Google and have kept some of the original ideas she promoted then.

what's wrong with public transportation? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#47141901)

why can't google and everyone else support public transportation?

lobby SF and California to build some train tracks and stops at the big corporate parks to start and build out from there to the smaller towns.

i'm all for car ownership and driving on weekends but when you have the same trip that so many people take everyday there should be a public option

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141941)

* Public transport is based on theft of resources from people who don't use public transport.

* What's wrong with private enterprise innovating?

Statist Wanker.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (3, Insightful)

afgam28 (48611) | about 6 months ago | (#47142107)

All government services are based on "theft" of resources from people who don't use that government service. This includes the roads that private cars drive on, which are funded in part by gasoline taxes but mostly through non-user-pays revenue streams such as income taxes.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142207)

Tired of all those peons that have to drive everywhere sucking off of my rich mans teat. I spit on them as I fly over their heads in my private helicopter.

Honestly, it's time for a lot of poor people to burn mansions to the ground and hang the rich assholes inside from the perfectly manicured trees.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142239)

You say that as though it's a valid justification...

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141947)

Because it's public. It has a certain stigma. I've known people to get groped or accosted by weirdoes. Having a private bubble is just that, private.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142327)

They'll also go the final 8 blocks that public transit fails to cover. Or gets you from point A to point B without having to take Bus 1 to to point C, walk to point D, then take bus 2 to point B, adding an hour to your travel time.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 6 months ago | (#47142639)

It also includes whatever fluids the previous rider left...be it piss, vomit, snot, or semen. And sure... you can send it back for another, but that just makes you late.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141961)

Google and others tried a similar thing with buses.
The Locals howled and picketed.
The City Government pontificated and demanded money for using publicly funded (through tax dollars) bus stops.
Google, et al, did this to provide bus transportation in the Bay Area for their employees because the infrastructure does exist to deliver their employees from their homes in the suburbs to the urban office.

You really should try to keep up with the news.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 months ago | (#47141967)

Agreed. But then all these Internet Addicts would have to actually SIT NEXT TO SOMEONE!!! Eeeew! The KOOTIES!!!!

Public transport is the answer, but the entitled class confused nature of the California Ideology squanders forward movement for the sake of narcissism. The collateral damage is massive. Example: the asshole renting a 2 BR apt at 19th and Valencia for $10,500 a month. That comes out to about $350 a day. Someone who has that kind of dosh isn't going to want to spend time rubbing shoulders with someone who pays $1000 a month to share a flat in the Sunset. It just isn't going to happen. They're both fucking peasants (one is an extremely well paid peasant) but the well paid peasant thinks he's something special. Besides, every racist knows poor people have kooties.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#47142083)

Agreed. But then all these Internet Addicts would have to actually SIT NEXT TO SOMEONE!!! Eeeew! The KOOTIES!!!!

Not necessarily [wikipedia.org] .

(crap, mylkeyboard ls now spewlng spuriouls pipe chalacters. sletimes in place lf a keystloke, somelimes jsut lxt to onl. lhis islabout thelweirdestlkeyboard flailure I'le ever exlerienced.l)

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#47142337)

Example: the asshole renting a 2 BR apt at 19th and Valencia for $10,500 a month.

I'm wondering here why you think he's an asshole. Because he's rich? Your post doesn't make that clear.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (-1, Troll)

mspohr (589790) | about 6 months ago | (#47142439)

Probably.
Rich people aren't like you and me. They are rich because they are willing to do whatever it takes to get rich and that usually includes being an asshole. If you have a conscience, you don't take money from others just so you can have a bigger house, car, etc.
Lack of social conscience, empathy and caring for others is the way you get rich.
So, yes, you can pretty much equate being rich with being an asshole.

Jealous much? (2)

mmell (832646) | about 6 months ago | (#47142451)

Just thought I'd ask. That's a pretty broad brush you're painting with.

How do you feel about the opposite sex, or people of different ethnicity than you?

Re:Jealous much? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#47142609)

Example: the asshole renting a 2 BR apt at 19th and Valencia for $10,500 a month.

Please not the definite article the. May be Ralph Spoilsport is talking about a very specific person renting a 2BR in 19th @ Valancia.

Re:Jealous much? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 6 months ago | (#47142689)

Getting rich and being rich are behaviours which are observed across all ethnic boundaries.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#47142501)

Probably. Rich people aren't like you and me.

No, they actually are like you and me. We're both assholes.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 6 months ago | (#47142373)

It takes me 20-30 minutes to get to work by car depending on traffic. It takes an hour, with 2 changes to get there by public transit. I sometimes have to work late hours without warning - if I'm too late for the last shuttle from my workplace, I'm stuck with a $50 taxi ride.

I work at a national lab. With overhead I cost the taxpayers something like $150/hour. Would you prefer I spend an extra hour a day working or sitting on a crowded bus? I pay taxes that help support public transportation, it just doesn't happen to serve my needs.

Companies like Google that provide comfortable group transportation where people can work while they commute are the target of protests. Is the wealthy that are class sensitive, or it it the poor?

That said, a bubble car wouldn't work anyway. Since I can't use it for long trips, I would be using up another very scarce parking space where I live. Its not at all clear that owning a commute car and a normal car is an environmental win over just owning an econo-box that serves all my driving needs.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (4, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 6 months ago | (#47141989)

why can't google and everyone else support public transportation?

lobby SF and California to build some train tracks and stops at the big corporate parks to start and build out from there to the smaller towns.

i'm all for car ownership and driving on weekends but when you have the same trip that so many people take everyday there should be a public option

1. Freedom.

2. Groceries.

3. Children.

Not necessarily in that order.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#47141991)

are you kidding, California is nearly bankrupt. Absurd "green" laws have made the state's resources (which could be used in a "green" way with known engineering solutions) to be increasingly off-limits and that has precipitated a slow-motion economic collapse.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#47142187)

are you kidding, California is nearly bankrupt.

Even a state teetering on bankruptcy can fund boondoggles by issuing bonds payable in the far future. California is in the process of building a bullet train from SF to LA, that is budgeted at nearly $100 BILLION, and take 30 years to complete. On average, these big ticket projects run over budget by a factor of three, so it they will likely burn through $300 billion or more before it is completed, or cancelled. That will be about $10 million per seat. The projected cost of a ticket on the train is far higher than the cost of driving a car or taking a plane, so it will likely serve rich people with more money than time.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#47142221)

It costs that much because of corruption.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#47142503)

Corrupt people have to eat, too, you know.

And it's just as well that we encourage as many of them as possible to locate in California, so that the rest of us can stay far far away.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#47142283)

no, California can't do that any more, massive amounts of bonds already issued (tens of billions of dollars worth) haven't been bought yet as investors are wise to California's plight

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

mozumder (178398) | about 6 months ago | (#47142397)

California has the biggest surplus in nearly a decade.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

"bankrupt" is the exact opposite of what you think it means

Since California has so much extra money, what should they pay to build to make sure their infrastructure survives over the long-term?

We have a surplus because us big-government statists voted a big-government statist into power. Us big-government statists are always better at building economies and societies than freedom-loving libertarians.

Had a freedom-loving libertarian been elected, California definitely would be bankrupted, because freedom-loving libertarians are terrible at economic policy, since they don't like to tax people and think people make their own money, which is incorrect. We big-government statists know that government is the source of all money and is the reason people are allowed to make money in the first place.

Never vote for a freedom-loving libertarian, because that's how people become poor.

Always vote for big-government statists if you want to be rich.

And most people don't want to be poor.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

cognoscentus (1628459) | about 6 months ago | (#47141999)

This - so much this. For popular journeys, mass transit is going to be considerably more efficient.

But keep the bubblecars for trips to rural/remote locations, and the elderly and disabled who need door to door service.

Perhaps a shuttle-type tram/train with 'pod docks' would be the ideal combination, maximising takeup, reducing stop frequency and offering end-to-end service for those who needed it.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142039)

But keep the bubblecars for trips to rural/remote locations?

What do you mean by "keep"? You know who will decide where these things go? The fucking free market—people choosing to pay for the service of their own volition.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Gunboat_Diplomat (3390511) | about 6 months ago | (#47142105)

This - so much this. For popular journeys, mass transit is going to be considerably more efficient.

But keep the bubblecars for trips to rural/remote locations, and the elderly and disabled who need door to door service.

Perhaps a shuttle-type tram/train with 'pod docks' would be the ideal combination, maximising takeup, reducing stop frequency and offering end-to-end service for those who needed it.

Something like this [businessinsider.com] adopted for pod cars too.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#47142109)

For popular journeys, mass transit is going to be considerably more efficient.

Not true. Most public transit is not particularly efficient. Trains and buses are very efficient when they are full, but they often run partly empty. On average, they are about as efficient as two people in an average car. An efficient self-driving on-demand electric car is probably better, both economically and environmentally, and they will be more widely used because they are more convenient. Eventually, self-driving taxis will kill public transit. There will no longer be enough demand.

Re: what's wrong with public transportation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142223)

Please give me some sort of source to your claim. As a public transit employee, it sounds like bull shit in my major city. The number of users has grown year after year and our system has gone through extensive upgrades.

Re: what's wrong with public transportation? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 6 months ago | (#47142363)

Please give me some sort of source to your claim.

According to this page [wikipedia.org] the average number of bus passengers in the UK is 9, and buses get about 6 MPG. So that is 54 passenger-miles per gallon, which is about as good as one person in an electric car, or two people in a gasoline powered car. But even that overstates the case for buses, since they drive a fixed non-optimal route, where a car goes directly to the passenger's destination, so the "miles" are not equivalent.

Re: what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | about 6 months ago | (#47142601)

I suppose I should have qualified my statement. I was referring to a situation where a significant fraction of people taking a journey actually choose to use mass transit to do so. From the same page:

"A commuter service in Santa Barbara, California, USA, found average diesel bus efficiency of 6.0 mpg-US (39 L/100 km; 7.2 mpg-imp) (using MCI 102DL3 buses). With all 55 seats filled this equates to 330 passenger mpg; with 70% filled, 231 passenger mpg.[60] "

Additionally, it need not be combustion-powered mass transit, but rather shuttle-or-train type transport, similar to the Chinese concept mentioned above. Again from Wikipedia:

"Considering only the energy spent to move the train, and taking as example the urban area of Lisbon, train seems to be on average 20 times more efficient than automobile for transportation of passengers, if we consider energy spent per passenger-km.[57] Considering an automobile which has a consumptions of around 6 l/100 km (47 mpg-imp; 39 mpg-US) of gasoline, the fact the on average cars in Europe have an occupation ratio of around 1.2 passengers per automobile and that one litre of gasoline amounts for about 8826 Wh, one gets on average 441 Wh (1,590 kJ) per passenger-km. On the other hand, a modern urban train with an average occupation of 20% of total capacity, which has a consumption of about 8.5 kWh/km (31 MJ/km; 13.7 kWh/mi), one gets 21.5 Wh per passenger-km, 20 times less than the automobile."

Think about all the traffic jams that exist in busy cities, and how much less congestion there would be with an organised public transport system where each passenger takes a fraction of the space.

Re: what's wrong with public transportation? (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 6 months ago | (#47142865)

So public transport is more efficient so long as we declare that its more efficient?

Nice.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142437)

For popular journeys, mass transit is going to be considerably more efficient.

Not true. Most public transit is not particularly efficient. Trains and buses are very efficient when they are full, but they often run partly empty. On average, they are about as efficient as two people in an average car. An efficient self-driving on-demand electric car is probably better, both economically and environmentally, and they will be more widely used because they are more convenient. Eventually, self-driving taxis will kill public transit. There will no longer be enough demand.

Around 24 million journeys are made every day on London public transport. Try to add that capacity with millions of individual self driving cars on London roads, and I'll show you a transport that won't be efficient at all.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142385)

"For popular journeys" maybe, but I have not experienced the "popular journeys" anywhere other than working in Tokyo.

A few years ago I took a new job, unfortunately it involved a commute. By car with typical SF Bay Area traffic, door-to-door one way was 43-47 minutes. I researched the mass transit options and took several trips to test it. I live close to a CalTrains station with a station relatively close to my destination. House to station, all train stops in between, shuttle to campus drop-off, and then walking to the correct building took on average 1 hour and 50 minutes. The schedule for arrival and departure was very rigid, especially in the evening. Working late was never an option.

For my situation, I gladly chose the commute by car option. Two hours of my life (on average) back each day with a significantly more flexible arrival and departure time. As for cost, that's a complicated question. Mass transit was far more than I spent on gas, but when factoring in vehicle maintenance and insurance, the car was more expensive. But given the time savings using a car in my situation, it was well worth it.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | about 6 months ago | (#47142729)

I have experienced the same sloth, albeit on fairly full buses. 1 hour to get 8 miles. Why? Because the bus stopped every 5 minutes to drop people off. It wound round nearly every single estate in town. Even though the volume of traffic on shared routes would support many more alternate services with fewer stops, if everyone were to abandon their personal vehicle.

Of course, that's a big if.

Self driving cars offer way more advantages (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#47142021)

why can't google and everyone else support public transportation?

I like public transportation to some degree, but self-driving cars are WAY more useful.

They could really get anyone from anywhere, to anywhere. With public transport you might have to arrange a few transfers, defiantly have to figure out how to get to a pickup location. And it may not go very close to where you want to go.

But a self-driving car solves all those issues. If you think longer term, you could even have self-driving public transports that took a group of people going to roughly the same place to where they wanted to go with a few stops along the way.

So getting self driving cars working helps public transport as much as private transport...

Re:Self driving cars offer way more advantages (0)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 6 months ago | (#47142847)

This.

Self-driving cars would open up an entire new kind of public transportation. Instead of having large buses which are only ever used at capacity for very small time slots and which must follow pre-planned routes that are almost invariably inefficient for the users of said buses, you could have extremely granular transit where people could just enter their desired destination and time, and they'd get processed into the network of self-driving cars for the most efficient route possible. Minimal time lost, minimal fuel usage (if the car's not used, it just parks instead of looping like a bus), almost-ideal saturation, precise start and end points.

As it is now, I'm taking the bus and it's taking between 25 and 75% longer than by car. Moreover, I still have to drive to the bus stop because it's much too far to walk and connections are hilariously bad (think adding an hour for what's a 5 minutes ride because of mismatched departure times). Public transportation based on self-driving cars would mean I'd be able not to own a car at all while being nearly as fast as if I had one. You'd see a much faster adoption if public transit worked that way.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 6 months ago | (#47142033)

No, you have to stay in your bubble and swear at those human drivers and check yahoo email with android phone to get ahead in your insane work schedule designed to keep other people unemployed so they can lower your salary. With public transport you might have conversations with real people and those usually lead to some truth. Stay in your bubble.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142077)

Where I live we have public transportation, but it pretty much of a joke. Its a small town, no regular bus routs, you have to call ahead for a ride. Wait times are far too long and you can only have 2 small bags of groceries. Frozen stuff is sure to be ruined by the time you get home.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 6 months ago | (#47142209)

Are you sure you replied to the right post? Because the one I'm seeing above yours says "when you have the same trip that so many people take everyday". You're from a small town? Congrats, you get to take your car everywhere. That's the way it is, even in the countries that have the best public transport. I'm all in favor of elaborate public transport networks, even if they run at a slight loss and governments have to chip in. I believe governments often recover the cost in "externalities"(*) such as decreased road maintenance and stimulating the economy. But, one needs to be a bit pragmatic; one just cannot expect every tiny town to get service to all the nearby centers every 10 minutes, else the loss is not "slight" anymore. This is just an obvious disadvantage one ought to be aware of when moving to a small town.

(*) For the nitpickers among us: note that these only satisfy the definition of "externalities" from the narrow view of the transport providers; from the broader view of the government, they are not. Hence the quotes.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

DrFalkyn (102068) | about 6 months ago | (#47142121)

For the most part, they already do ... the penisula has Caltrain which runs from San Jose to San Francisco, and it also has light rail line which between Mountain View and San Jose

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#47142349)

Getting from the Caltrain station to Google is a pain, though

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (3, Interesting)

artfulshrapnel (1893096) | about 6 months ago | (#47142157)

I mean, the short list? Off the top of my head this solves problems like:

- Public transit only becomes economically viable above certain volumes. Anyone in too small an area doesn't have access to it and never will.
- Sometimes public transit doesn't run where you want it to go, especially if you need to make an unusual trip.
- Sometimes people need to go places at times when public transit isn't running, or need to go faster than public transit will allow.
- Some people are disabled, and would have a hard time getting to the nearest public transit stop even in an area that supports it.

There are lots of reasons why this is a useful solution. So many people in my city (Boston) keep a car that they use about once a week for odd or off-hours trips. A solution like this would take all those cars off the side of the road and replace them with about 1/20th the number of shared cars.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142171)

Good luck with that. California's economy is still climbing back from 2008, and even then, we have had a 1% recession since the year started. Public roads that are not toll roads are a thing of the past before US wealth moved overseas.

Self driving cars are the only way to get transportation to suburban areas. Buses kinda work, but when they run hourly, just hopping 2-3 buses can mean 3-4 hours wasted at bus stops. Self-driving cars can save man-years of productivity.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

dabadab (126782) | about 6 months ago | (#47142193)

Conventional public transportation has lots of problems that all are well known and most of it comes down to the simple fact that mass transport needs masses and while some part of your route may coincide with enough other people (especially in rush hours of densely populated areas) but most probably not all of it.

The driverless cars actually could be the foundation of a new generation of public transport: you could think of these bubble-cars as the atoms of a peronalised public transport.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (2)

tofu2go (727555) | about 6 months ago | (#47142211)

Why can't these bubble cars be the public transportation option? I.e. public transportation does not have to mean mass/joint transit. Rather than predefined stops that people get on and off at at fixed times, these cars could be made available to the public at any time of day to get them where they need to go with zero stops along the way. Just pay the fare like you would a bus or taxi ride. It would be nice if you could call a service from your mobile, send your GPS location, and have them automatically send out a car too you at an appointed time. And if there is inter-car communication, perhaps these cars can automatically coordinate themselves to minimize traffic jams and further reduce transit times, and maybe they can even drive bumper to bumper (at distances that a human driver cannot do safely) for improved efficiency (drafting). There are possibilities here.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142219)

why can't ... everyone else support public transportation?

Because SOME of us live in places where public transportation is never going to happen.
You need to do a bit of traveling so you understand the world is different in different places.

Take a trip to Wyoming, Montana, or numerous other western states some time. You will
see vast open spaces which contain no people. The number of people in such areas is
so low that the "user base" for public transportation is much too small to even begin to
justify the expense of such things are light rail or bus service. Also, try waiting for a bus
or a taxi when it is -30 Fahrenheit, which in the northern Rocky Mountain area of the US
happens often.

Public transportation is a solution which works in some places at some times. There is NO
solution which will work everywhere all the time.

Take a trip outside of your tiny little world. It might be scary but you might also enjoy learning
things you did not know.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#47142321)

why can't google and everyone else support public transportation?

Because even when public transportation is good, it still takes longer to get places. I saw a survey of drivers in LA once. Something like 70% of the people surveyed wanted improved public transportation........so that other people would take the train and the roads would be cleared for them.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142523)

Because rich people at Google don't want to use public transport.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

sl149q (1537343) | about 6 months ago | (#47142659)

Because most public transportation is less efficient than autonomous cars.

The exceptions are very high bandwidth routes carrying a consistently high amount of riders.

Most of the time for most routes you have large, expensive, low gas mileage vehicles running mostly at a loss.

Autonomous cars will be able to work efficiently in a dense configuration where they can operate very close together achieving almost the equivalent of the best of mass transportation.

And for the rest of the time (probably > two thirds) they are simply more efficient than pretty much any other alternative.

Autonomous cars also optimize for peoples time. The latency of your travel (time to get from a to b) will be lower. Since you don't have to walk to the closest bus stop, then take the local feeder bus to mass transit, then switch and wait for that, etc. You get picked up at home, and read your paper or work on your laptop until it drops you off at work.

Finally, building this out doesn't require mega-investments by local or state or federal governments. Since autonomous vehicles will re-use the existing road network (and more efficiently at that) multi-billion dollar investments in public transit lines won't be needed. Just encourage adoption of autonomous vehicles. As the old fleet ages out and the new one rolls out it becomes more efficient in its use of the road network.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142789)

Self-driving cars are superior to public transport and regular cars in many ways. A long line of self-driving cars can drive like one long flexible vehicle - like a train with rubber wheels. Except any segment in the train can go its own way if the occupant needs to go elsewhere than the rest of the train. Self-driving cars are like a train that goes from your front door to where ever you need to go and where you get your own compartment. These compartments can be centrally routed to maximize the capacity of the road network. You can own your own compartment, so if someone trashes their compartment or takes a dump on the seat, that won't become your problem. They can park themselves more compactly than regular cars - the doors do not need to open when parked and you can box the cars in with other self-driving cars that will get out of the way to retrieve the boxed in car. Self-driving compartments can drive on the already existing road network. Granted, even these small bubble cars are not as dense as a fully loaded bus or train, but it's not like buses and trains are usually fully loaded anyway. If we can replace all the current cars with self-driving compartments, that will be a huge boon to everyone (well, maybe except professional drivers).

To answer your question, what's wrong with normal public transportation is that it doesn't go from where I am. Once I somehow get to a stop I have to wait for the next departure. Efficient public transportation is fully loaded, which means you get to be packed in with a mass of bodies - you don't enjoy that either. Once I arrive, I have to somehow get from the stop to where I want to go. So now I've wasted a bunch of time doing something unpleasant and I STILL need to find an alternative transport solution to get to where I actually want to go. Self-driving cars solve all these problems and more.

In the mean time, Google does support public transportation [sfgate.com] in SF.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142801)

Why wouldn't public transportation become self driving cars. It can drop you off at work and uber itself and come get you at the end of the day recharged,
maintained and clean. A good portion of cars on the road are just looking for a place to park.

Re:what's wrong with public transportation? (1)

zr (19885) | about 6 months ago | (#47142809)

whats wrong with [public] transport carrying a single person (or a small group) from exactly where they are to exactly where they want to be?

that raises (not begs) the question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141919)

is it me not giving a shit or is shit not giving it to me?

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141921)

It's ugly anyway.

This is what it should look like:
http://weknowmemes.com/2014/05/dear-google-self-driving-cars-should-look-like-this-meme/
(K.I.T.T. - from 1982)

or at least something more futuristic:
(Peugout Moovie - from 2006)

Re:Who cares? (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#47141939)

how about this, or is this 1942 car too futuristic? http://www.inautonews.com/six-... [inautonews.com]

Tiny Bubbles???? (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 months ago | (#47141923)

Re:Tiny Bubbles???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142203)

Too bad they don't have the Dean Martin versions there. Seem to recall him doing more then one version of the song virtually without changing a word. Crooning it in a melancholy manner, his drunken alcoholic routine, in a manner similar to Don Ho's performance there and perhaps more. Been a few decades,,so...

Wonder if the majority of the public eventually goes with "self-driving vehicles" that open container laws can be dropped? If there is a "self driving vehicle" that has an internal combustion engine fueled with alcohol, can it be charged with a DUI? Charge it with resisting arrest for not following the officer's instructions? "Close your eyes, lean back,,,,now touch your nose."

Law of headlines (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 6 months ago | (#47141935)

Betteridge's law of headlines says no and the summary pretty much nails it.

The bubble shape maximizes the amount of internal volume given an amount of materials, or minimizes the amount of materials needed to make a car with a given volume. Take a bubble and attach crumple zones front and back and you have the shape of a typical car. I suppose the idea is that these self-driving cars won't need crumple zones. We'll see about that...

Re:Law of headlines (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 6 months ago | (#47142267)

Well, if you add aerodynamics to the equation, the bubble suddenly isn't that favorable anymore. And then there's stability and, as you already brought up, safety.

That said, I fully agree that the only sensible answer in "no". Striking similarities? What striking similarities? Google's car looks much more like a Smart than like Mayer's concept, and Smarts have been around (and copied) since 1998, 13 years before Mayer made her "bubble car" sketch. Slow news day?

Cardiff (3, Interesting)

johnsie (1158363) | about 6 months ago | (#47141953)

Cardiff city in Wales were planning to have driverless taxis. The project was cancelled though because committees. http://www.theguardian.com/bus... [theguardian.com]

Bubble cars have been around since the 1940s (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#47141957)

This type of design seems to be news only to Americans. You could call the current Smart car the descendent in spirit of those early cars due to its profile and 2 seater layout. In fact I believe there are even electric Smarts for sale now and unlike Googles car which look like something designed by a 5 year old girl, they don't look too bad.

Or maybe (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 6 months ago | (#47141959)

Or maybe it's based on about 70 or 80 years of sci-fi that describes the same thing.
(Mostly written, but there are some drawings, paintings, and videos that have those.)

I know it's hard to find, but you really should check out some of the really old sci-fi from the 1900s. You'd be amazed what they wrote about in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Re:Or maybe (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#47141969)

no, there were real bubble-shaped electric cars from 70+ years ago

Key phrase being "then-Google VP" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47141971)

Any ideas she came up with and developed while at Google are property of Google, like with most tech companies.

Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142011)

On one side we have an actual prototype. On the other a napkin sketch.

In both cases it is a common device. I do not give a F#ck about who thought of the self driving bubble car first. Unless there is a good point about a technical innovation from it's implementatino on either side that the other side actually is infringing I can only see this as a symptom of a broken patent system.

If this was a century ago and I had heard that Ford had made a newfangled automobile called a truck and that maybe someelse had thought gee... wouldn't it be a gas if I could haul more stuff in the back of my spiffy vehicle and Fred down the street had made a similar thing I would not have cared.

It's a PRT (2)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#47142029)

Lots of little shared-use autonomous pod cars running around? That's a PRT, a Personal Rapid Transit [wikipedia.org] system. The idea has been around for decades, and a few prototype vehicles have been built. Older designs were rail based. Later designs used guideways, but the vehicle had some steering smarts. The latest designs steer themselves, but still use dedicated roads. Nothing much has been deployed, except for a few small systems at airports and fairs.

Re:It's a PRT (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 6 months ago | (#47142289)

Nope, no one has ever thought of light weight cars that have collision safety concerns ever. It is revolutionary, considering the Paradox car with one big door and was designed to fling passengers as far as possible in a collision.

All Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142035)

pretty much look the same

Another Timothy community building exercise?? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#47142055)

Can we please stop with all the childish spoon fed 'discussion' builders.

We get it, you want the newbs who like the shiny to feel at home, but you're just pissing everybody else off by intentionally lowering the topics and quality of discussion!

Yeah, total brainstorm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142057)

Like the bubble cars in Logan's Run.

Why does it still looks like a car? (1)

houghi (78078) | about 6 months ago | (#47142065)

This reminds me of when the first automobiles were made. They looked like coaches without the horses.

These look like cars without a steeringwheel. Why not start completely from start. e.g. people facing each other, so they can see each other.

Re:Why does it still looks like a car? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 6 months ago | (#47142531)

So they can barf on each other, rather than on their own lap? Or is it only the half of the people facing backward who do all the barfing?

Hmm, why not be really creative and have the passengers stand on their heads?

Re:Why does it still looks like a car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142559)

because motion sickness.

Tiny little death-traps (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 6 months ago | (#47142085)

Sounds to me more like 'little rolling coffins'. Why not make them bio-degradable as well so when something screws up and a dozen people get killed, you don't even have to bother prying them out of the damned things, you just dig a hole in the ground and drop them in? Honestly, am I the only one who thinks that getting into a box on wheels that you have NO direct control over is a bad idea? At least with trains and buses there's someone at the controls, even if it's otherwise automatic, who can override the system if there's a problem, but this? No thanks. I can't be the only one who thinks it's a bad idea.

Re:Tiny little death-traps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142593)

Sounds to me more like 'little rolling coffins'. Why not make them bio-degradable as well so when something screws up and a dozen people get killed, you don't even have to bother prying them out of the damned things, you just dig a hole in the ground and drop them in? Honestly, am I the only one who thinks that getting into a box on wheels that you have NO direct control over is a bad idea? At least with trains and buses there's someone at the controls, even if it's otherwise automatic, who can override the system if there's a problem, but this? No thanks. I can't be the only one who thinks it's a bad idea.

Most smaller cars are orders of magnitude safer today (curtain and dash-mounted air-bags, crumple zones, drop-away engine mounts) than cars made even 10 years ago.

They may look ugly to you, but the new VW Bettle has one of the highest safety ratings for a car of it's size due to that bubble shape.

These cars will likely be mandated to be safer. After all, you're not controlling it. If something goes wrong, it could go VERY wrong and you have no control to stop it. DOT should be considering that as a factor in the safety ratings floor.

Wonder who the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142089)

I am wondering how the corporate life insurers feel about this??

Good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142111)

Good thing nobody else has ever thought of this stuff before. Ever.

CEO in a Bubble (0)

bayankaran (446245) | about 6 months ago | (#47142113)

Marissa Mayer is the same class as Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and others. They are going to remembered for blowing up their own organizations. What all these nincompoops have in common is a "severe lack of imagination". There is no cure for that.
She's is right about the bubble...she's in one.
The cheapest car in the world - TATA NANO - failed to make a mark. The other bubble car - Mercedes Smart is a failure in every sense of the word.
And the Google bubble car will be as popular as Segway.

Re:CEO in a Bubble (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#47142263)

Are you nuts?

The SMART is hugely popular and has been so for over a decade. In europe they are one of the most common cars seen on the roads. It's the bullshit that the USA forced on it that makes it a failure in the usa. The SMART is safer than most cars made in the USA, but they had to add a lot of useless safety crap to meet US regs designed to stifle importation. Europe and Canadian safety regs are good, but US regs are designed to stifle importation of cheap cars.

Then they did stupid shit like not importing the Diesel model that get's well over 60mpg. it sells rapidly in Canada, but you cant buy on in the USA. Maybe if the US regulations would allow a real SMART here the ones that sell for $7800 NEW in Europe they would sell like freaking hotcakes as they would be the most affordable car sold and have a market that is huge.

Instead we have only a handful of dealers so anyone that buys one has to have it serviced 150-400 miles away. They choose to not buy one because Mercedes is stupid and will not let the cars be serviced at a standard Mercedes dealership.

Lastly, they took so long to get it here, they got stomped on by toyota. the iQ is all the car the smart is with a dealer network to get it fixed all over the place. Plus it has a huge advantage of being built in the USA so they can side step all the roadblocks that were in front of the SMART. But the iQ is overpriced at $17,000. It's a $9,000 car and the morons at Toyota refuse to sell it as such. Instead they pile all kinds of extra crap in it to try and justify it's sky high price tag. Same problem as the Smart. Overpriced because the executives are too stupid to know how to price a tiny commuter car so that it sells like hotcakes.

Re:CEO in a Bubble (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#47142763)

Overpriced because the executives are too stupid to know how to price a tiny commuter car so that it sells like hotcakes.

No automaker wins a race to the bottom. Every automaker wins a race to the top, because there's more profit on cars with added bullshit. They don't particularly care about the people.

Re:CEO in a Bubble (3, Informative)

mean pun (717227) | about 6 months ago | (#47142285)

... The other bubble car - Mercedes Smart is a failure in every sense of the word.

For a failure it is doing remarkably well. Here in Europe it has now been for sale for more than a decade, and there are no signs that its market is collapsing. It's true that not everyone is driving it, but if that is the benchmark, nowadays all cars are failures.

And the Google bubble car will be as popular as Segway.

The Segway also doesn't look like it will go away in the near future, it has found a few niches (e.g. getting around fast in large buildings such as airports and shopping malls, and guided tours for tourists).

Also, Google's bubble car is just an experimental platform for now.

Yahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142177)

Never invented anything of worth.

Bubble cars... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#47142197)

I like it [laughingsquid.com] !

Bad idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142247)

They should go with squares so they don't get sued over them being too curvy.

Woody Allen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142313)

Created the idea in "Sleeper". Self driving, egg shaped cars. EOS.

Fuck beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142335)

Stop forcing it on us.

Why do they need seats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142445)

Driverless but with seats?
What is the point of these things?

All that is wrong with Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142513)

Almost everything that is wrong about our society, and about Business in general, and "hot" companies in particular, is summed up in the 1st sentance
On what planet is a CEO with a tech background remotely qualified to brainstorm a new car design ?
That she thinks she is is all that is wrong - she thinks she knows it all, and as a result, does all sorts of things where she has no special insight or understanding, just like a host of other CEOs

The Messerschmitt KR200 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47142535)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_KR200
As seen in the movie Brazil.

The Peel Trident springs to mind, too. Everything old is new again...

Solution = trains + small battery motor cycles. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 6 months ago | (#47142739)

Presently people think one has to drive all the way or ride public transport all the way. That is why the solutions are unsatisfactory to most people. Trains are incredibly efficient in carrying payload, they are very good for longer distances without stopping. A gallon of fuel for some 450 ton-mile of pay load. The additional cost of carrying both the passenger and his/her battery car/motor cycle is not too much.

Rethink rail transportation. Design small battery powered motor cycles, one or two riders, with some 30 or 40 miles range, with some moderate protection against rain. Drive it some 5 or 10 miles to the train station and board the train with the motor cycle. Train serves only the main trunk route, with stations spaced 5 miles apart. Get off the station and ride the last few miles to work. Such a solution will be very attractive lots of commuters.

Such an urban mass commute transit has the potential to slowly create inter city train services for such small personal vehicles and their riders. At some point it could grow into a national transportation network of trains bearing 80 to 90% of journeys. The first 5% and last 5% of the journey will be done on personal vehicles. For longer distance inter-city journeys, the savings on tolls, wear & tear, gasoline, car rental at the destination, avoiding motel stays along the way etc will make it quite cost effective to pay for taking a small personal vehicle on a train. It will be quite attractive to lots of people. There will always be people who need or want a full sized pick up truck. But all those people who are currently driving econoboxes, they will happily switch to lower range low cost personal battery vehicle, if their long distance travel need could be met.

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