Why don't oil companies develop automatic cars


I'll be writing more in the future on ideas for auto-drive cars (both plus and minus) but let me start by asking the question of why the oil companies haven't jumped up to foot the bill for the development of automatic cars and highways?

It seems a big win for them. Given the availability of a car that would drive itself on the freeway and perhaps a few major roads, people would be much more willing to tolerate longer commutes, and that seems a win if you sell gasoline. A multi-billion dollar win.

Not completely -- the automatic cars will be more fuel efficient (simply driving at constant speed is more fuel efficient, but they will also be more likely to be hybrid designs.) But that's coming anyway. Given the ability to read, work or sleep during the commute would easily make people willing to commute for longer. In fact, for those who can easily sleep, they might welcome a longer commute to get the chance to have a decent sleep period. (Though there are those annoying people who are asleep before the plane starts its taxi. I hate them.)

We're also talking about a car where, while in it, you can have a decent speed internet connection and phone. The commute time effectively could become fully effective work time. Or TV watching time, or reading time.

Of course, in theory an automatic car in special lanes would also not get subject to traffic jams, so a longer commute would take the same time, and a longer commute sells more gas -- though admittedly traffic congestion also sells more gas.

But once again, the upside for oil companies is huge, and it's also high for the automakers, and the highway planners. It's mainly not good for public transit, since it takes away one of its advantages. We already know the basics of how to build an automatic car on an automatic highway. One of the big remaining barriers is money, and this could be the source.

I've added some extra notes below...Addendum: It also seems likely that with automatic highways, people might be much more amenable to long road trips in their cars. In fact, they might favour vacation homes an 8 hour drive away (perhaps at a lower, more efficient speed) since in many towns you can save a huge bundle by going to such a distance. They would then purchase an automatic car with a sleeper-conversion option. Friday night they would bundle up the kids and sleep their way to the weekend home. Sunday night do the same. The result would be 32 waking hours at the weekend home vs. 29-30 in the traditional method.

Of course that requires a whole family that sleeps well in bunks in a car, and presents interesting problems when somebody needs a bathroom break. Ideally you would want to actually run slower (say 40mph, still giving a 300 mile range) for better efficiency, safety and smoother ride, but this would require dedicated lanes for the nightcrawler cars. And safety restraints are an issue. The automatic car might be safe, but another non-automatic car might hit it.

Since savings of a distant vacation home are often tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands, it's easy for a family to justify getting such a car just for such trips. However, the fact that the oil companies would love this isn't necessarily good news, other than for getting it funded. If this became widespread it would mean burning a lot of midnight oil, so to speak.

To save that, the cars could also form long-haul trains if they could couple. This makes sense for any long-haul trip, but if you are sleeping and don't care if there is a 10 minute delay to join the next road-train, you would be more amenable to it.

Airlines and rail trains have of course offered sleeper transit for some time though it's generally not a preferred choice. Whether the public would jump for it in their cars is hard to tell.


Hi Brad and all,
Well, this idea you have on automtic cars is a great idea!!!
However, it won't happen soon enough till all of us consumer demand it ahppens and the idea of automatic cars and vehicles becomes an everyday discussion.
Below is an article I wrote. I don't get payed for this article but here's the way some folks in the automatic transportation industry are thinking. I've put their ideas together to form one idea. So, let's all get together and make it happen and there are links in the article to things about it.
The more of us that demand it of auto dealers and also the infrastructure, the sooner it will happen. The squeeky wheel gets the greece of course.
So, let's all get involved to make it happen.
automated vehicle road and maglev system proposal
Suppose that it's a Friday afternoon, and you, along with every other north American, says, "Ya know something? I'd sure like to get away for the weekend." But then, you remember about all the driving it's going to take to go from your place to that cabin 10 hours away, and of course, who could forget all the traffic on the way up there? You could also want to get away but you're disabled and can't drive, and you have nobody to drive you around town, let alone out of town. Well folks, take heart, that is about to change. At least it could change for all of us in North America, but it depends on how badly we all want it to change. Below, is a proposal that will revolutionize transportation in north America forever. Read on, and get the word out and get involved, and sooner than later if we all become vocal about this technology, that 10 hour cabbin trip will take only 1 hour or less, and driving in town, as well as out of town, will be a whole lot safer.
the problem?
Freeways cannot solve the city and inter-city traffic problem. Most freeways have inadequate capacity for the present traffic demands, particularly at commute time Expanding or building more freeways provides only temporary relief. Traffic quickly rises to meet available freeway capacity. Freeway expansion and new freeway construction are approaching limits imposed by real estate availability and price, environmental concerns and political constraints.
In many locations with mass transit, the system makes a minimal impact on the traffic problem because:
*People prefer private cars.
*People want the schedule flexibility of private cars.
*People want door-to-door transportation.
*People don't like having to change trains, busses etc. to get to their destination.
*People don't like waiting at bus stops, train stations or street corners for their ride.
*Mass transportation systems are usually slower than private cars due to frequent stops and transfers.
*People like to travel privately or with company of their own choosing.
*Private cars are usually more physically comfortable than mass transit travel
*People avoid mass transit because of fear of crime, exposure to contagious diseases and unwelcome personal encounters
*NOTE*--this plan below is taken from different ideas people have suggested. What I've done is tried to bring everyone together so we can get this done much faster than is being done at this point because lives are depending on how fast we implement this plan.
The proposal consists of a conversion kit that would be connected to any vehicle, by being bolted into the chassis or the driving part of the vehicle that makes the vehicle move. This kit would consist of the following
1. gps
2. a digital map
3. cameras
4. a doppler radar colision avoidance system, augmented with lazer radar to detect distances of vehicles in front of the vehicle
5. automatic cruze controll systems which will automatically apply the brakes to maintain proper spacing between vehicles
6. forward, reerend, intersection, and lane change colision avoidance technology. The lane changing will be done automatically, and lane departures by the vehicle will be done automatically to avoid colisions.
7. Side impact sensers which will cover blind spots to the sides of the vehicle, whether in the front of or in the back of the vehicle.
8. break, steer, and throttle by wire (also known as drive by wire), which will utilize steering, throttle, and break actuators keeping the vehicle from exceeding the speed limit, and also keeping the vehicle in the correct lane.
9. magnetic sensors to detect the vehicles ladderal deviation relative to roadway magnetic markers installed on state roads, county roads, city streets, side streets, parking lots, and driveways, buried at 4 foot intervals along the lane center line and detected by magnetometers. These will not be installed on the guideways, (also called expressways).
10. an antenna to receive the radio wave controll point marker information
11. an automatic steering actuator
12. a lane marker detecter
13. a steering guidance system which automatically controlls the steering of the vehicle
14. magnetometers located under the bumpers of the vehicle
15. forward scanning Lazer sensers that seek out obstacles in front of the vehicle.
16. For road, street, side street, parking lot and driveway use, the vehicle will use a hydrigin engine or an electronic motor.
17. traction control to keep the vehicle from skidding
The 1st 17 points you just read were for our state and county roads, city streets, side streets, parking lots, driveways and the vehicles that will be driven automatically on them. The next part (especially 18 through 29), is for the guideways also called expressways of today. these parts will go on the same vehicles which will replace todays trains to make them automated on the guideways also called expressways.
18. For the guideways/expressways, this vehicle would use a small linear motor for magnetic levitation on the guideway/expressway. This is the motor that will power the hilomag part of the vehicles. This motor will run at a constant 7000 mph, (3500 km/hr) between cities. These motors are different because they will be electric powered from the guideway/expressway. These are different from regular electric motors, because the moving parts are attached to the bottoms of the cars, and travel in a line instead of rotate. The static parts of the linear motors aren't in the cars at all, because they're built into the guideways/expressways. Now, I'm opened to using hsr. (also known as high speed rail), also cars, buses, or trucks, but the speed *MUST* be 7000 mph between cities. This is non-negociable speed because the technology is available to travel that fast. This 65 MPH stuff on our highways of today is antiquated, and people want to get there as fast as possible and vehicles can or will be able to drive themselves at that speed.
19. instead of railroad tracks which we call them today, guideways which are tracks would be built, but they'd only would be accessable for vehicles which are designed to work on tracks, or highways and also on city streets, so they would be able to be used on both tracks like trains can be used today, and they would also run on regular roads, streets, side streets, parking lots and driveways just like the cars, vans, and trucks of today. These vehicles would be able to drive at a constant 7000 mph between cities because of very low air pressure, between 0.03 atm and 0.1 atm or in other words 3-10 kpa. The lower the air pressure the faster these vehicles can drive. The aerodynamic drag losses will be reduced, thereby allowing much higher speeds with reasonable power. Folks, if NASA can make scramjets fly at 7000, then why can't we have vehicles that fly or move along using very low pressure at 7000 MPH? Now, I'm also opened to using the current tracks or expressways of today if we can use them. If not, then we'll use different tracks, or the highways roads, streets, and expressways as I mentioned above.
20. Rows of electrical magnets will provide guidance on the guideways,/expressways with magnetic levitation to keep the vehicle from touching the guideway/expressway.
21. the vehicle would drive itself on the guideways/expressways as well as on state roads, county roads, city streets, side streets, parking lots, and residential driveways
22. If the power to the guideway/expressway goes out, the wheels will support the vehicle, and the vehicle will be guided and coast straight ahead
23. If power goes out on 1 section of the guideway,/expressway, or if a section is shut down for maintenance, that section will be instantly and automatically isolated, and other guideway/expressway traffic will be turned away from that section.
24. Automatic mag lev entrance and exit ramps will be vital features of the system. Vehicles wishing to enter the guideway/expressway will be automatically accelerated to the full 7000 mile per hour speed and then slipped into line. Vehicles wishing to exit from the high speed car stream are slipped out of line, smoothly decelerated back to city speed, and guided back to the automated streets of the city, where more automation takes charge of the vehicle, and the vehicle continues, being guided by roadway sensors, or roadway magnetic markers (mentioned in number 10 above), taking charge of the vehicle.
25. If a guideway/expressway computer should fail, a backup computer will instantly automatically take over.
26. hackers won't be able to vandalize the system, because the system will be independant of the internet.
27. Before the system will permit a vehicle on to the guideway/expressway entrance ramp, the driver or someone inside the vehicle will need to either punch in on a keyboard or say a city and state, where the vehicle needs to exit at. This exit choice can be changed while in route if the change is made before you're halfway to the place of your first choice. After the city and state, are keyed or spoken, the computer will speak a message suchas, "If you wish to leave the guideway/expressway at Detroit, Michigan either say yes or press y, or say no or press n. Then the system will determine the best and fastest route to get there, that's if your trip involves more than 1 guideway/expressway of the national prt maglev guideway/expressway network, and it'll route your vehicle from 1 guideway/expressway to the next.
28. The guideway/expressway will be payed for by billing the users automatically. A bar code reader and an integrated circuit chip in the vehicle will identify the vehicle and its owner to the system as the vehicle enters the guideway/expressway entrance ramp. the typed or spoken city and state will tell the computer how long the trip will be, and when to bill the user.
29. All vehicles will be forced to under go a safety test, and participate in a vehicle maintenance program. If the computer finds anything wrong in the code of the entering vehicle to the guideway/expressway, suchas an out of date safety check, or an over due guideway/expressway bill, the system will divert the vehicle back on to the street, rather than letting the trip continue in an unsafe or unpaid vehicle.
30. The vehicles will look the way we want them to look, made by our favorite auto companies, and the styling can change yearly, just like they do today.
31. there will also be light trucks which hall freight on the guideways/expressways that run the same way at night..
32. the name of the system will be called the national automated road prt maglev system (NARPRT maglev system) for short.
33. These guideways/expressways will be available 24 hours a day. When sections are closed for maintenance, the system will route traffic to detours.
34. This system will operate throughout the entire U.S., than expand into Canada, Mexico, then become a trans continental system.
35. the system will run the same speed everywhere, 7000 mph (3500 km/hr) between cities on the guideway/expressway, 65 mph in the city.
36. no vehicle will go to fast or too slow, because there will be a automatic speed limit controler built in to each guideway/expressway.
37. these vehicles would belong to the owners, parked at their residence, just like they are today.
38. the vehicle would automatically be locked so children couldn't fall out by accident.
39. Pallets will be included to permit automobiles that we currently use to be used on the guideways/expressways until all new vehicles are made to conform to the standard of the vehicles that will be guideway/expressway ready, then the pallets will be removed and then any older vehicles that are not guideway/expressway ready will be undriveable on the guideways/expressways, but they'll still be able to be driven as long as the user doesn't want to be driven out of town.
40. These vehicles will be 1 foot apart on the guideways/expressways. They will not bump each other, because the syncrunization of the system will lock them in step. The spacing won't change because the vehicles will all be forced to travel at the same speed.
41. No accidents will occur on the guideway/expressway, because nothing in the vehicle will be used in the high speed mode except the magnets underneeth the vehicles. These magnets guide, support, and lock the vehicles into the appropriate speed.
42. When the vehicle is on the guideway/expressway, the motor used to drive it in city driving will be shut off, because all the normal parts in each vehicle will be stopped.
43. The vehicles will be floating on the guideway/expressway and also frictionless accept for air resistance which will be very low.
44. These vehicles will travel 4 seconds apart on the guideway/expressway system.
45. These vehicles will only be affordable if they are produced on a large scale mass production.
46. This system will be developed and built by private companies.
47. The project to build the hilomag or hsr system will take 300000 people productively durring its design and construction.
48. the cost for building the NARPRT system will be $300000000000, of which $150000000000 will come from the 50 states combined, $3000000000 from each state, divided by the number of counties in each state, equals the dollar amount per each county. This county figure will vary from state to state depending on how many counties are in each state. This will not be a problem though, because safety will be our *MOST* important factor when going from place to place, and the national automated road prt system will be the ultimate solution to those concerns. Except for several small government initiated study contracts and a continuing government administration of the guideway/expressway system, the NARPRT system will be a money making investment by private citizens and corperations and not more taxes and national debt. The NARPRT bonds will be payed off from a portion of guideway/expressway fees collected, and only the users will pay for it, and not those who don't use the system but everyone will, since they'll love the fact that the vehicles will drive themselves and people will get from point A to point B *FAST AND SAFE*. The user will only pay per use. City streets that we'll continue to use the automated vehicles on will be payed for as they currently are paid for, by all of us today. A growing number of people think there will be enough income from the guideways/expressways to pay for maintenance. The savings costs will be $20000000000 per year in operations costs. Now some people have told me that we can do this cheaper with hsr, and that's fine with me. I want it to be built at the lowest cost to the federal government and to each state and each county, so if hsr is cheaper, then we'll go with hsr. If maglev is cheapest, we'll go with maglev. However, I won't cut corners. It must be safe, and it must be secure from terrorists.
49. under the Americans with disabilities act, state rehab agencies would be required to provide disabled people with these vehicles, providing they could prove by a medical doctors signature that they were disabled, and that they could prove they couldn't afford to save up for 1 of these vehicles.
50. If the automated road part of the system acts up, the driver will be able to push a button or speak the word manual to go back into manual driving mode.
51. The public has already accepted airplanes, and this they would go for *EVEN MORE*, since it's faster than a plane but much cheaper $1 per each 800 mile (1600 km/hr) round trip. It would be much more private as well.
Get this, 1 hilomag guideway lane equals 40 expressway lanes, and in and around the city, 1 guideway lane will equal 12 freeway lanes. It would take 1686 Grey-hound buses per hour to equal the capacity of 1 200 mph hilomag guideway. It would take 80 trains per hour of 1000 passengers each to equal a 79200 passenger per hour carrying capacity of 1 hilomag guideway going only 350 mph. Here's another thing that's amazing about this system, 1 hilomag guideway has the same capacity of carrying 186 fully loaded 747s per hour. The total time between 2 destinations of 1000 miles appart would be less by hilomag than by jet, and it's much cheaper than a jet. It would take over 42 fully loaded standard 47 passenger Grey-hound buses every hour to allow the illimination of 1 freeway lane of cars. Now, let me ask this question, are buses still a great way to go when compared to the hilomag system?
It would work like this. I, the driver, would get in the vehicle and the vehicle would ask me "where do you want to go?" It would already know what address I'd be at because of gps. I would tell it what address I want to go to, and the system would tell me how many steps it would be and how long it'd take to get there. Then the vehicle would start up, or, the driver could start it up manually. Then the vehicle would pull out of the driveway, or pull away from the address because the vehicle would be parked on the street. It would then drive to the address where the driver wants to go. The speed, steering, and breaking would be automatically controlled by the software within the vehicles computer.
What are the benefits of such a system?
1. Crashes would be avoided because of radar, sensers, and or cameras on the front and side of the vehicles.
2. This vehicle could drive through fog, blizzards, whiteouts, rain storms, smoke, etc.
3. This vehicle will also give baby boomers and folks with disabilities independence, because more of them are getting older, and will have sight problems, or have strokes, and won't be able to see, or move hands or feet to drive a car, etc. They don't want to have to buy a new car because of lack of income, so if they could just put a kit on to their current vehicle, (or if someone could put the kit on the vehicle) so the vehicle could drive itself, it'd save them money but still give them their much desired independance.
4. Accidents will be illiminated.
5. The speed limit would be raised to 7000 MPH between cities, and 65 MPH in the city, because the vehicle wouldn't be controlled by people but it would be driving itself, therefor, vehicle speed would be perfectly controlled, and breaking to stop at intersections could start 5 to 10 feet or further away from the intersection so the vehicle wouldn't have to stop so suddenly.
6. people could reach or lean any way they want, eat, drink, shave, comb their hair, shave, sleep, read, write, tend to children in the back seat, adjust the radio, find another cd to play, talk with each other inside the vehicle, send faxes, adjust the air conditioning, watch TV, do other office work, talk on the phone, etc. instead of trying to do those kind of things and drive at the same time which results in accidents which happens today.
7. no more roadway departure crashes.
8. no more roll over accidents
9. no more rear end crashes
10. no more lane change crashes
11. no more intersection crashes
12. no more head on colisions
13. no more drunk driving accidents because vehicles will drive themselves.
14. no more deaths and injuries will occur, because there won't be any more accidents
15. no more suv roll over deaths
16. no more new roads will need to be built, because vehicles will drive themselves and avoid conjestion
17. no more driver distractions
18. no more road rage
19. driver stress would be done away with
20. pollution would not exist because the flow of traffic would be continuous and folks would get to their destinations much faster.
21. conjestion on roads would no longer exist, cutting travel times at least in half or more
22. no more tail gating
23. no more problems driving with sun glare
24. better utilization of roads
25. improved traffic flow.
26. lower costs for freight hulling
27. no more delays in traffic when going from 1 place to another
28. airport delays will not exist, because people will not be flying as much from commercial airports as they were, accept over seas.
29. people will still have their independance as they have always wanted because that's why they have always bought vehicles instead of taking public transportation.
30. no protection of passengers from impact will need to be built into these vehicles, because impact from accidents won't occur
31. passengers won't need to wear seat belts any more
32. passenger safety systems inside the vehicle won't be needed, making the vehicle lighter
33. hospitalization, meddical, surgical, and rehabilitation costs due to vehicle accidents will cease
34. law suits over traffic accidents will be no more
35. no passing will occur, since the vehicle will drive itself
36. there will be no need for public transportation, because people will be going door to door.
37. no more using wrental cars, because you would be traveling in your own vehicle instead of flying.
38. people living near airports won't have nearly as much airplane noise to deal with, since people won't be flying within the U.S. and Canada but only over seas.
39. no more problems with slick roads
40. no more blow outs will occur
41. there will be no more careless drivers on the roads
42. These vehicles will give us what we all want, our privacy, compared to public transportation which doesn't give us our privacy. Why is privacy so important to people? In trains and buses, we're forced to be in close proximity to people who we might not want to sit by, people who may insist on talking when we want quiet, people who occupy all the seats and leave us to stand, people who have other characteristics that we don't like, people who are high on drugs, people who are drunk, people who have a contagious disease, or people who have plans for us that will harm us.
43. After the original construction, there will be very little maintenance needed. Just think of it, no more new construction of new roads and expressways, which so many of us complain about.
44. Since there will only be 2 tracks needed (1 track going each direction on a guideway, the old expressways can be bull dozed over, and trees and flowers can be planted, thus beautifying the guideway, and saving road space and reduce transportation costs for each state department of transportation as well as the federal government.
45. no more gridlock
46. no more problems with drivers failing to yield the right of way.
47. No more problems with drivers disregarding traffic signals.
48. No more problems with inattentive drivers, because the vehicles will drive themselves.
49. There won't be a need for car insurance, because there won't be any more accidents.
50. The system will be secure from terrorist attacks.
51. The system will be infinentley expandable.
52. travel costs for going from place to place will be extremely low due to low costs for maintenance and no fuel costs.
53. taxes will be reduced
54. The system will provide transportation to large and small towns regardless how bad the weather is.
Purpose of proposal. I'm not interested in making any money (not 1 penny) from this proposal, but we need to get a national concensus and get this vehicle conversion kit into production, and get the roads, and guideways ready, cause right now, people are being injured in accidents and even being killed on highways and roads, and the sooner the automated vehicle is on the market and the sooner the entire system is in place, the safer we'll all be. We don't have *A MINUTE* to waste.
The difference between dual mode and PRT/GRT? Dual mode transit (DT) takes far fewer miles of guideway compared to a GRT or PRT system. A much smaller number of stations would be required with dual mode as well. Travel on the automated part of the system would be hands off, view rich, and somewhat faster than a PrT or GRT system.
I'd like to thank the following folks and groups who are sited here for their ideas so far. The folks at Nasa who launched the scramjet at 7000 on November 16, 2004. http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43-main.html, the Mccrary PTS paper which tells the problems currently with roads and mass transit. www.mcpts.com/textonly.htm, The folks at Delphi Automotive, Bill Gardner who works at the Mn department of transportation, the folks at California Path at the University of California at Berkeley, there web site is http://www.path.berkeley.edu and the folks at Toyota, the NCTR the impact of emerging technologies and their web site is http://www.civeng.unsw.edu.au/IEAustTP/NCTR/ITSNCTRVer2.html, Francis Reynolds, a retired engineer at Bowing from Bellevue, Wa. now with Hilomag USA., who really knows his stuff when it comes to mag lev guideway systems, and who is a pilot himself, so if he says it will do better than a plane, we all need to take notice. (see the following web page for more info http://faculty.washington.edu/~jbs/itrans/hilo2.htm Maglev 2000 with the same concept as Francis Reynolds has and they're in Titusville, Fl. and the phone there is 321-267-0910, ask for John Morena. Also Galen J. Suppes a professor at the University of Kansas at Laurence for his info on the 3000 mph traveling speed between cities.. The web page is http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/suppes.htm and his email address is on that web page as well. There's also Bud Kennedy, with his comment on building a concensus, Mark Senk for the question about spacing between vehicles, Dan Tibeld for mentioning the fact that disabled people wouldn't be able to afford these vehicles. He also mentioned his concern about the cost for the project, Phil Long a reporter for the Miami Herald who did a wonderful article titled cell phone use rarely a facter in Florida recks, data shows, an article about drivers and cell phones, and the web page is http://www.miami.com/herald/content/news/local/florida/digdocs.106799.htm also Yoshi Kimura, who works at Honda for the suggestion on what my purpose for this proposal. Also, there is the toll road news letter for info about HSR, and the web site address is http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/vuchicmaglev.htm, and Dr. Francis D. Reynolds, the author of Personal Rapid Transit Verses Dualmode Transportation which you can find by doing a search for it. Also, the article titled CE World article reviews seven emerging transportation technologies, and the url is http://www.ceworld.org/ceworld/Presentations/TransportationInfrastructure/Schneider.cfm and also Brad Swartzwelter, the author of the book Faster Than Jets, and his web site where points 20, and 50 through 54 in the benefits section of this plan are taken from is www.AmericanMetro.org
If you have any more questions about the kit, or suggestions of other things that I could put in the proposal, just email me and be specific in your suggestions, and let's stay in close touch. my email address is wd8oep@SAFe-mail.net
Harry Brown, Port Huron, Michigan

It is interesting to see that the thought of Automated Highway System (AHS) vehicles is finally getting some attention! I must point out to you guys that New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington are already on the bandwagon of such an endeavor. The implementation will come in the form of a Justabike Station, where you can purchase a Mag-Lev Auto-Bike to ride on the road or elevated guideway system. NJ is already in the process of doing a feasibility study, but regardless of their findings, www.justabike.net will be on the roads anyway, which will force the demand for such a guideway system!!

I thought I would just clue you in on such happenings!


Attn; Brad Templeton

Here is more info for reviewing


let me know if interested

jack marchand

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