Peak Oil + Autonomous Cars = Traffic Nightmare

How you’re going to feel once peak oil and automated cars make traffic a nightmare


Autonomous Cars
For a number of years now, high-end luxury cars have had autonomous cruise control systems that use lasers or radar to maintain a set distance to the car ahead. Earlier this month Tesla rolled out an autonomous driving mode in its electric cars that takes this a step further. Teslas will now drive themselves on a freeway, accelerate and decelerate on their own and maintain a set distance to the car in front. However, unlike other cars with autonomous cruse control, they will now also change lanes – if you click the turn signal the car will automatically check your blind spot and execute a lane change. This is just one more step toward a fully autonomous car that consumers can buy.

Some of the world’s largest tech companies are working on autonomous vehicles. Google has driven their autonomous prototype cars over a million miles, which have been completely accident-free, except for other human drivers crashing into them. Apple has also been hard at work on an autonomous, possibly electric, car of their own. In all, over 25 companies are currently developing autonomous cars.

Most industry experts believe that fully autonomous cars will be mainstream in just 5 years. Others predict that in 20 years most cars won’t have a steering wheel or pedals and in 25 years most people won’t need a drivers license.

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Suspension Design: Roll Center and Turning Radius

This week I did some work to determine the roll center height of the car and decided on switching from rod end bearings to spherical bearings to improve the tilt angle, while still leaving me with a good steering radius.

 

Here’s the histogram chart of turning circles for 840 cars currently for sale in North America:

A histogram chart of the turning circles for 840 cars currently for sale in North America,

A histogram chart of the turning circles for 840 cars currently for sale in North America,

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Tilting Three Wheeled Electric Car Suspension 3.0

An update on the tilting three wheeled electric car leaning suspension system. Both front and rear suspension have been updated. The front suspension now includes a rack and pinion steering system with linear actuators. The rear suspension is almost complete.

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Tilting Three Wheeler Suspension 2.1

This is an update of my chassis and suspension design for my tilting three wheeled electric car. I added some linear actuators to allow the car to lean into corners and created an aluminum frame to mount the batteries and linear actuators. I also added a frame for the rack and pinion steering.

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Chassis 2.1 Update

A quick update on the chassis design for the tilting three wheeled electric car.

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Chassis 1.0 – Tilting Three Wheeler Electric Car

First attempt at the chassis – using a large block of machined aluminum to create a backbone for the car – similar to Colin Chapman’s design of the 1960’s Lotus Elan. The goal is to keep the car light and keep the mass centered and lowered to have a good yaw polar moment of inertia.

 

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Peak Fish and Sustainable Food’s Last Mile Problem

peak fish

Peak Fish

My wife and I are subscribers to a local sustainable “fish share.” It’s like a vegetable CSA except instead of getting locally-grown vegetables we get fish that have been caught off of the San Francisco Bay. The fish are super fresh and delicious. The fisheries are managed to restrict catches to a sustainable level. This type of sustainable fishery management, unfortunately, is the exception rather than the rule around the world. Globally, somewhere between 12% and 30% of fisheries have collapsed. Based on actual tonnage of fish in the sea, the world reached “peak fish in the sea” in the late 1980’s. When we analyze the tonnage of fish captured globally we see that we reached “peak fish capture” in 1996.

peak fish

Global fish capture peaked in 1996

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Sustainable Banking

Our Fiat Currency System

As the late peak oil writer Michael Ruppert used to say, “until you change the way money works, you change nothing.” Chris Martenson does a great job in his “Crash Course” linking the banking system to peak oil. In short, our entire global fiat monetary system is dependent on exponentially-increasing levels of debt. If debt does not continue to increase exponentially, there isn’t any money to pay off the interest on the existing debt and the system seizes up. Exponentially-increasing debt is dependent on exponentially-increasing economic growth which is largely dependent on exponentially-increasing resource extraction. Of course you can’t have exponentially increasing resource extraction when you live on a finite planet with a finite quantity of resources, so eventually we will reach peak oil and “peak everything” and the whole debt-based monetary system will unravel.

Due to its basic design, our current monetary system encourages unsustainable resource extraction practices. Until we move to a sustainable monetary system, we will continue to find it extremely difficult to transition to a sustainable economy. Ultimately if we are going to live sustainably on our earth we will need to reach a sustainable equilibrium where we no longer need to extract resources from the ground and are able to provide all of our energy, food, water, housing, products, etc. from renewable energy, recycled water and recycled raw materials. Every product would be designed to be “cradle-to-cradle” with the full product lifecycle from manufacturing to recycling (or upcycling) designed for sustainability. Instead of planned obsolescence we would have products designed for multi-generational longevity (like my aluminum cornhole boards!) But in order to get to that sustainable future, we need a currency that isn’t dependent on increasing economic growth.

I see two main sustainable alternatives to the current fiat debt-based monetary system:

  1. Resource-based money
  2. Cryptocurrencies

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Tilting Three Wheeler Battery Pack 1.0

I explain the battery pack I’m planning to use in my electric three wheeled tilting car.

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Tilting Three Wheeler Suspension 2.0

This is the 2.0 design of a tilting three wheeler suspension.

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