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I like that their delivery vehicle isn't any bigger than it needs to be.

An interesting idea out of this: if self-driving vehicles reduce the collision rate, road vehicles can (for some applications) get much lighter. Part of why cars are so big and heavy is safety (along with optionality for cargo and high speeds over mediocre roads). Shedding the steel safety cage could lead to improved fuel economy, which would result in a tremendous reduction in carbon output if scaled.




Excellent point! It's not just the reduction in space for the human passenger, but also a reduction in weight and resource usage from not needing (as much) safety features on the vehicle.

I'm guessing this would also make the cars safer to crash into, or be crashed into by, given that passenger cars would continue to be heavier and sturdier.


It's a chicken-and-egg problem. You'd want to be among the last people on the road to adopt a lighter car, because being in a lighter car while other people are still in heavy cars makes it much more likely for you to get killed in the event of a collision.

I wonder if it will take legislation to solve.


> You'd want to be among the last people on the road to adopt a lighter car, because being in a lighter car while other people are still in heavy cars makes it much more likely for you to get killed in the event of a collision.

There are many reasons to adopt a lighter car. Collision safety isn't one of them, but if that was your only concern you'd be insane to have a car at all.


The problem is that for many people (in the US), a car is simply a necessity. And car safety is an important part of that. A lighter car would fare poorly against an older, heavier car in the case of a collision. Therefore, the lighter car is less safe.

That's why it's a chicken and egg problem. No one wants to be in a less safe car when there are so many accidents (and deaths from them) every year.


People only want safe cars if they don't interfere with regular conveniences. I'm sure I've posted this on here before, but if people really wanted safety, we'd have roll cages, harnesses and helmets. But we want safety only when it's convenient.

I think people talk a lot about safety, but I don't think that is as primary of a concern as everybody says that it is for them. How many people actually go research and learn about all the cars they are shopping, vs people who just go to a dealership and listen to a salesman and buy what's in their price range?

Most people don't even read the damn owners manual, they don't even know what that big yellow light is (TPMS or CEL) that has been on for months. They won't buy winter tires in the winter, even though you can get a set for like $700. $700 is too much to spend to increase winter safety by a large margin on a $30,000+ car. Hell, people don't even use turn signals. The little stick that is less than 2 inches away from where your hand should be, and you don't even have to take your hands off the wheel to activate it. The problem is you'd have to decide which of your 16 cupholders to put the cup in, then reach way over and put it down before you could signal.


> But we want safety only when it's convenient.

Regardless, safety is still wanted. Just because people don't go over the top doesn't mean they don't want any at all. Having a lighter vs heavier frame would make a significant difference in a collision between regular-style cars and new, lighter ones.

The rest of your comment is attacking a strawman.


Its a non issue, I would buy and use a lighter car right now if it let say significantly cheaper.


A lot of the safety-related weight is non-negotiable, at least in the US. Every new car sold has a lot of airbags, and while they aren't mandatory, it's impossible to earn a good safety rating (from the NHTSA, a government agency) without them. So you could say the added "safety weight" (and drag, since the airbags make the car bigger on the outside to preserve cabin space) has been partially regulated into existence.

At some point in the future, I hope the NHTSA takes in "probability of crash" into their safety ratings for self-driving vehicles. Otherwise the safety bloat in modern cars will stick around. The equivalent of wearing a motorcycle full-face helmet while riding a bicycle.


Once safety improves enough, other considerations like fuel economy, available parking spaces, acceleration etc become more relevant and slowly drive weight down.


> You'd want to be among the last people on the road to adopt a lighter car

Make all the delivery vehicles that have no people in them really light first


> I wonder if it will take legislation to solve.

We can barely get common-sense prison-reform (or anti-surveillance) legislation on the US for fear of being labelled soft on criminals; imagine the terror of being the legislator who made cars less safe (without even winning favour from the auto manufacturers for doing so).


> I wonder if it will take legislation to solve.

Some people simply need large cars - how are you going to legislate that?

If I routinely carry 9 people, I need a large van. I don't have the option of a lighter car.


Kind of like how drones are smaller and cheaper than fighter bombers.


The vehicle also looks kind of top-heavy. If it is, that might not be such a problem because it can be programmed with limits to how much it can turn at a given speed (keeping the limit high enough that it could still swerve to avoid an accident).


Has no one here hit a dear before?


Or a moose. Every time one of these self-driving threads starts heading towards "and they can all communicate with one another and fly along the road at 200 MPH" — no. Braking distance is still going to matter when a deer bounds out of the woods.




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