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My programming language is better than yours 

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@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism PRT == automated guideway transit with small vehicles. The vehicles are summoned at stations, the guideways are closed to everything but those small vehicles. Thereโ€™s been fully-automated PRT systems in service since the 1970s at least. Higher infrastructure cost to deploy, but it can be done with technology that demonstrably 100% works today.

โ€œAutonomous vehiclesโ€ means autonomous cars on the roads, a much much much harder problem to solve, but using existing infrastructure.

@bhtooefr @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism Right, PRT implies rails or something close to rails. Is there any point to non-autonomous PRT today then?

@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism The โ€œPRT vs. AVโ€ debate being posed in this thread isnโ€™t between a hypothetical โ€œnon-autonomous PRTโ€ and autonomous PRT, itโ€™s between autonomous PRT and autonomous cars on roads.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism I was thinking of PRT systems where the cars could be driven on roads as well, which solves the last mile problem. I can't find mention of such an option on the Wikipedia page, so maybe it wasn't as common a proposal as I'd thought. That's why I was thinking about the combination of the two technologies.

...

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr PRT seems like it could potentially deliver on the failed promise of monorails: cheap elevated guideways. Monorails are big and you can't walk on the guideways, so being able to evacuate means you need a lot of ladders or walkways along the side, so the infrastructure is not much cheaper. With PRT you could potentially climb over or around the cars and walk on the guideway, just like on an elevated freeway.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism That means you can have a guideway that's barely larger than a pair of cars and space the emergency ladders/stairs farther apart, assuming elevated guideways, which I think is usually what you want.

Though there is a huge advantage to sharing infrastructure even with dedicated lanes, since you can just expand as you cut into normal car travel.

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr (There are also structural reasons monorail tracks are expensive, and the vehicles are more expensive. So the only real advantage is noise because they run on pneumatic tires, but there are lots of different guideway and vehicle configurations that can use pneumatic tires.)

@freakazoid
I spent a good few years working modifying vehicles to run on biofuels & trying to encourage decentralised biofuel production. Became very aware of transport issues, alternatives, energy requirements & thought about it all a lot

Its not hard to imagine better systems but theres a number of massive & influential industries (roads/oil/auto/finance) tightly tied to the existing model. This heavily influences the political will to push for alternatives

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr

@freakazoid

I attended government consultation events packed with representatives from the established industries, pushing heavily for their interests

I think the finance around autos is very important. After a mortgage its the biggest debt many folks have (although college/uni debt has also become huge)

The implications of changing from this amount of personal debt would be huge

The transport inefficiency in our societies is huge. People travel long distances toโ€ฆ

@clacke @cjd @bhtooefr

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@dazinism @bhtooefr @cjd @clacke I think this is why a carbon tax is ideal. It lets us shift things gradually and "naturally", and we'll naturally start with the lowest hanging fruit, which is probably the truck fleet and other fleet vehicles, because the infrastructure is more centralized and biodiesel can run in unmodified engines.

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism
My personal opinion is that we need a new "interface" which is neither butt-on-seat nor rubber-on-pavement. Some interface between a transport pod which carries passengers or cargo and the car/train/boat/mag-lev/hyperloop which carries it, then a sort of router which switches pods on and off of different transport. This would change the economics of running (for ex) a train line, because it can directly pull commuters off of a road.

@cjd @dazinism @clacke @bhtooefr We already have such an interface, and it's cheap as hell. It's called a cargo container. There is also some kind of system that allows attaching those to trailers, but I don't know how standardized it is given that I see trailers loaded directly on flatbed train cars a lot.

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