Does Personal Transportation really helps reduce jam ?

Hi, this is basically a thought that came across my mind, which i have discussed with a group of my friends. As a student in industrial design i would really like to find out more, of what people think in this area.

Nowadays, in this modern world we see traffic jams almost everywhere. An established designers had came up with concept transportation design such as the Volkwagen One Concept, Toyota Winglet and many more.

If i were to post these questions:

Since personal transportation could only take up to mostly 1 or 2 passenger, so if i were to travel with the amount of 4 person, it means i would actually need 2 of these personal transportation or more.

Will it cause heavier traffic loads ?

Does it really makes more space in roads ?

More fuel usage ?

Pls, do tell me what do you think, basically this is just some sharing… TQ! :laughing: :smiley:

You would have to do a little more research, but I’m betting 90% of vehicles have only 1 or 2 people in them. Therefore, if they are in a smaller vehicle, it should be better in terms of space utilisation.

However, a more lucrative solution would be computer controlled traffic. People make really poor decisions on the road (too big a gap, tail gating, lane changing, etc) and we have reaction times suited to walking, not driving at 65 mph. With the integration of computer systems in cars, like stability control, it should be an easy switch in 10 years to turn the control of the car over to a computer on the highway. With some of the adaptive cruise systems out there, we’re half way there already.

Just for fun: stand next to a highway for 20min and count the number of cars that has any passengers beside the driver :wink:

If all those who use 4+ seaters to commute would switch to something like a Smart, the road-area taken up by cars and emissions would perhaps be reduced significantly… but would it reduce jams? I doubt it. IMO jams are best eliminated by stabilizing the traffic flow, which could be improved by:

  1. Roads. Things like clearer signs, well thought out junctions, roundabouts etc. and
  2. Drivers’ attitude. Don’t try to overtake or switch lanes in a jam, focus on FLOW. Let people merge smoothly, they’re not jumping a queue or whatever. When you come to a full stop, the effect may be cars miles behind you will do that too.

Smaller vehicles only work when traffic is bumper to bumper. For moving traffic, the vehicle size makes much less difference than the gap between vehicles. The standard 2 second gap at 100 kph is about 5 times the size of a typical vehicle. At higher speeds the gap increases and the actual number of people on the road at any given time is lower. If we change cultural habits so that more people ride in fewer vehicles the result would be more effective than reducing the vehicle size to match the single driver.


Hod “WE” intend to do that. You can’t change cultural habits, but cultural habits can change you. :wink:

I totally agree. Embedded guidance “tracks” in highways would eliminate traffic. It’s not so much the amount of cars, but the drivers in them that create the traffic. 1 person hitting the brakes can cause a chain reaction that reverberates/radiates for hours… almost like a ripple in a pond.

Just in case you don’t believe us and have too much free time.

I could see some kind of “track” or other computer-driven system working in a highway setting, albeit I don’t think it would proliferate nearly as much or as fast as I’ve heard some claim.

My thinking is that there would be a lane added to existing highways (or a converted lane or w/e), similar to HOV lanes (because those are so wildly successful). There could be a computer-assisted merge-in sequence when a driver joins up with these lanes, and the computer would take over fully as the merge completed. This would allow the cruising speed in these lanes to be much higher, essentially creating a super-lane connecting major highways. Computers could even create “trains” of cars for better aerodynamic efficiency. Or even better, the cars could physically connect together, allowing the individual units of the trains to alternate which engines were doing the work, while the others went into conservation mode.

Having said all that, however, I really can’t see fully automatic “robo cars” ever being really practical, at least not for a very, very long time. The transition period would be too long, I can’t see any real practical way to integrate the first few generations worth with all the preexisting cars on the road, and if they relied on some embedded track in the roadways, we would have to rebuild all the roads in the country (and frankly, most states can’t properly maintain a plan old slab of asphalt). Not to mention issues like “how do I get down this dirt road/driveway that doesn’t have a track” and the fact that initially, only the most urban areas would be accessible to a fully auto car, and even then not all at once.

And on top of that, reliability. Two things Joe Public cannot be trusted to maintain: computers and cars. Just because you keep yours running smoothly doesn’t mean you should assume Tim and Marge next door do, and what happens when their’s goes on the fritz and decides your living room is an on-ramp?

I feel like my point was probably made a few paragraphs ago, so i’ll stop ;p

Just for fun: stand next to ANY road in India for 5 min and count the number of vehicles :slight_smile:

Personal transport may be a good solution to tackle space issues…but in the long run, it’ll create more havoc. First, it’ll be more affordable - that means more people will have the buying power = more vehicles. So basically, we may reach a situation where the space taken up by one car may be now sought after by 5 smaller vehicles.

In a place like India, the 2/3-wheelers are a huge menace to traffic - just because they can be maneuvered in jams. Also because of the strict lane-indiscipline followed on Indian roads! As purplepeopledesign mentioned, the better way is to have more people using fewer vehicles…and hence, public transport!


desecrator: The way people were zooming between pedestrians and other vehicles, it looks like Indian traffic is already computer controlled! Looking at the reaction times needed there, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an Indian F1 champ soon.

Orion: I understand your point. Rebuilding highways seems like the easiest way to give computer controlled cars the ability to navigate, although it is the also the most difficult to implement. However, autonomous technologies are quickly developing. Look at the DARPA autonomous prize for one example. I think you are also right that the most difficult part of the project will be mixing the automated cars with normal traffic. A separate lane would be an easy start.

I don’t think it is far off though. What would one need to have an autonomous automated vehicle? The ability to locate itself: GPS is already a mature technology. The ability to maintain a speed: cruise control which is fitted to most cars. The ability to maintain a proper distance to other cars: radar, which has filtered down to mid-level luxury cars already and will probably be everywhere in ten years. The ability to react to hazards: stability control controls the brakes and throttle of cars and will be fit as standard to every car very soon. Lane guidance: already exists, albeit at a beta stage right now on some luxury cars.

So basically, we have all the technology in cars today to make this a reality. The hurdle is to bring them together in a safe way, but that will be a far smaller project than developing the individual technologies. I say well within 20 years we will have fully autonomous and more efficient automated cruise control.

I agree with desecrator “the more persons per vehicles the better, hence public transportation”.

Actually I would put it that way : Big cities are good for the Earth. Yep.

The traditional dense city like a european city or New York, etc… reduces the distances travelled then the amount of pollutants. And makes possibles a dense network of public transportation.
A never ending 100-miles-long Los Angeles is the worst scenario. Commuting 20, 30 or 100 miles everyday is terrible, environmentaly speaking. By the way it also creates jams, and countless hours lost in them, cost a lot for the commuter (car price plus insurance plus gas plus maintenance), etc…

So the right way to reduce jams is not 1 person-concept-cars-from-japan but switching our way of life out of the car system. Sadly that would take longer than automated roadways of the future…

A good public transportation system mixes short, medium and long distance solutions. For the short part here are exemples that are increasingly popular across Europe :

PS : A detail about “people don’t drive properly : too big a gap, etc…” A large gap smoothes trafic and avoids jams. A narrow gap does the opposite.

Pininfarina has already come up with a radio based “transparent mobility” thingy on the Sintesi.

So basically, we have all the technology in cars today to make this a reality. The hurdle is to bring them together in a safe way, but that will be a far smaller project than developing the individual technologies. I say well within 20 years we will have fully autonomous and more efficient automated cruise control.

Last semester I was working on an automated public transport module for Melbourne…and this question came up about jobs that’ll be cut down because of automating the whole thing. One argument can be that the more technologically advanced you make a system, the more “back-end” support you need - which will bring out more employment opportunities. However, such a system is not possible everywhere…what are your thoughts about this?

This kind of stuff involves urban design & planning to go hand-in-hand with transportation design…and more importantly, policies to support such a system, e.g population density.

Last semester I was working on an automated public transport module for Melbourne…and this question came up about jobs that’ll be cut down because of automating the whole thing. However, such a system is not possible everywhere…what are your thoughts about this?

I have two thoughts, but I consider them more philosophical than design:

  1. I was a few years ahead of contemporary European thought. Capitalism (as we have known it) is dying because of its own success. Society will become more efficient through automation and organization. The resulting mass unemployment will be unsustainable and inhumane. Society will find a new way to utilize the excess labour.

  2. Within the existing economic framework, people are too expensive to have sitting in buses or screwing things together on assembly lines. Just as the dollar value of goods manufactured in Germany have grown while manufacturing employment has fallen for decades, this will occur in other industries. It is inefficient on a societal level to artificially maintain these jobs. People should be given severance and retraining to relocate them where they can add more value to the economy.

Amount of space required to transport the same number of people by car, bus or bicycle:

Along that line Bobcat, Gordon Murray is shopping around the design/engineering of a mini car that will allow two cars wide in a single lane. I’m anxiously awaiting him to unveil the car as he says it is the first ground up rethink of the automobile.

Along the same lines: Only 5% of an average car’s power is used to move your flesh and blood around. The rest goes on the weight of the car, power losses (AC, Cat converters, etc) and power needed to overcome aero drag which increases as a cube of the speed.

(can’t find an attribution, but think about it: 3000lb car carrying a 150lb driver…)

I think it’s a waste of time to keep talking about mass transportation, at least in the U.S.

People here love their cars, and for good reason; the country is too spread out for an effective mass transit system. The highway infrastructure is already developed anyway, and we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of it.

Focus more on individual vehicles and how to make them more efficient.

No. You’re wrong.

I love the Eisenhower interstate system as much as the next guy (you in this case). What we in the US have is data from others spending their money on ideas, and a mostly blank slate, a need for new infrastructure and a need for jobs.

What we have is an opportunity.

Well I disagre too.

Look, I love cars too. The freedom, the speed, the beauty of some of them. What I’m saying is that commuting isn’t enjoying the drive. Maybe we could, step by step, use public transportation were possible on weekdays and cars on weekends. As we wouldn’t think of wearing bathing suits, smoking or drinking alcohol during workdays but those can be perfectly suited to weekends.

Also “USA too big a country for public transp.”
Fast trains like the japanese since 1964 or the french since 1981 goes 200 mph. You can’t go legally that fast on a car. And you can work, use the internet, watch a DVD or sleep, like in a plane. The bigger the country the more interesting this becomes.

Personnally I have to travel to cities for work several times a month. Say 3 hours by car or less than 2 hours by train. Either I get up very early and I’m tired the day after 6 hours of driving plus an 8 hours workday. Or I go by train and I work during the journey, usually to prepare the meetings before or to work on what we decided after. Way better.

But you’re right : there not a one and only solution.
It’s good to live near and use a bike,
or to live far and use public transp.
or to live farther again and use a small car rather than a big car.

It’s just that the amount of earth-warming pollutants increases by orders of magnitude between each solution…

“Focus more on individual vehicles and how to make them more efficient.”
From what I know about american cars’s mileage per gallon there is indeed a huge potential for improvement…

Sadly all the Big 3 employees seem (logically) to be car fanatics “with gasoline on their veins”. And they kept making gas-guzzling 300, 400, 500 horsepowers musclecars at each show. Really georgous, but not very clever those days, no ?