Importance of Natural Resources

Self-Driving Cars Won’t Save Cities – Here’s What Will


This video is sponsored by Brilliant. The first 200 to use the link in the description
get 20% off their annual premium subscription. Self-driving cars are coming. Maybe in two years, maybe in twenty, But someday the steering wheel will fade into
history like Jell-O Salad and these weird coasters. The elderly and disabled will have cheap,
convenient transportation, Instead of racing to work, you’ll sit back,
relax, and generate ad revenue for me. and crashes will go from unfortunate reality
to rare tragedy. When three technologies converge: self-driving,
electric, and shared cars, the problem of how to get from A to B will
pretty much be solved. For the 68% of us living in cities, there
will be no need to own a car. In this world, transportation is a service,
waiting on every street, corner, nook, and alley. No waiting, hailing, or repairing. Of course, convenience is nothing new. The real force of progress is economic. Without the cost of drivers and gasoline,
prices fall dramatically. They won’t just be faster, easier, safer,
and, ya, know, better for the planet or whatever, but also affordable for everyone. The car will become the ideal form of transport. Not despite its cost, but, in part, because
of it. and that’s the problem: More cars means
more congestion, more parking, more challenges for cities. You might be thinking, sure, and automation
can solve them. Perhaps. But mass transportation is a very complicated
and political equation. It’s not that self-driving cars are bad,
exactly the opposite, it’s that so much optimism hides real obstacles, or, at the
very least, question marks, on the road to the city of the future. Like many technologies, individually, self-driving cars are great Collectively, they have all kinds of unexpected
consequences. Everything about them we hear through the
lens of technology, and when you’re a programmer, everything looks like Ruby on rails. To really understand them, we need the mindset
of a Sim City professional. And at the top of things Urban Planners hate
are: highways, parking lots, wide roads, and suburbs. Basically… cars. Or everything America is obsessed with. Today, electric vehicles make up less than
one percent of new car sales in the U.S. Even in Norway, where it’s 22%, that’s
only 84,000 electric, compared to one billion total. In other words, we’re a long ways away from
most cars being electric. Until then, they release 13% of all greenhouse
gas, kill more people from pollution than crashes, and make cities look and sound like…
well, this. But even if every car were electric tomorrow,
and self-driving technology was perfect, AND everyone could afford it, there’s still
a fundamental problem: space, the most valuable resource in a dense, urban area. 60 people commuting to work can look like
this, or it can look like this. If we’re generous and assume two people
per car, that’s still not 60. Imagine how wasteful sidewalks would be if
everyone required a 2-meter buffer. Well, you don’t have to. Fine, you say, so we’ll build more and bigger
roads. Do not pass go, and do not collect two hundred
dollars. This is a classic mistake, because bigger
roads do work, just, only for a minute. As roads improve, more people drive, until
it’s just as busy as it was before. Bigger roads? More traffic. Same congestion. Remember: transportation is an ecosystem. You can pull any lever you want, and with
the best intentions, but change one variable, and three dominoes down the line, who knows
what happens. Trust me, I watch levers get pulled all the
time. Plus, money spent on roads isn’t spent improving
trains, bikes, and busses. So, why do roads get bigger anyway? In part, because politicians serve short terms. Reduce commute time, get reelected, and then
watch it return to normal. Roads determine the shape, health, and success
of a city, they push buildings further apart, and housing
into suburbs. These long distances between home and work,
or school, or shopping, encourage, and often require, the use of a car. What could be an easily walked or biked community,
is stretched out into an endless sea of buildings where people get less exercise, make fewer
friends, even spend less money. But for 92% of their life, cars just sit. In the U.S. alone, there are one billion parking
spaces, four times the number of cars, or, together, the size of Connecticut. Most cities have Parking Minimums, For example,
a bowling alley in San Jose, California must provide at least 7 parking spaces per bowling
lane. A business office requires 1 for every 250
square feet, but a research office, only 300. Which is just as arbitrary as it sounds. In 2004, the city of London removed these
minimums, and parking fell from 1.1 spaces per apartment to 0.6. And since businesses are incentivized to create
as much parking as customers need, this switch from free to free-market parking shows there
was previously too much. Of course, parking is never really free, In
residential areas, it hides in the cost of rent. In the U.S., that’s an average of $225 a
month, sometimes much more. And taxpayers bear the cost of free public
parking whether they use it every day or can’t afford a car and only breathe-in their fumes. Worse, Americans incentivize driving with
the federal Commuter Tax Benefit, 7.3 Billion dollars a year in write-offs for
those who drive to work. This alone causes an estimated 4.6 billion
more miles to be driven, and moves wealth from poor to rich. Meanwhile, the government loses 7 billion
dollars, Which, I have a feeling it could find a better use for… Now, you might be thinking, all this talk
of parking and sprawl and roads, it assumes more cars in the future. But when we share them, won’t there actually
be fewer? Well, maybe. But there’s good reason to be skeptical. For every mile shared Uber and Lyft rides
save, they add 2.6. How is that possible? 45% of the time they’re empty, driving to
and from pickups. and 60% of riders say they would’ve otherwise
walked, or biked, or stayed home. Driverless cars will be more efficient, but
not fundamentally different, there’ll be empty, wasted miles, and many who share will
do so instead of a more efficient means of transportation. And because demand fluctuates, they’ll still
need parking. Having enough cars to get everyone to and
from work leaves many with nothing to do for the rest of the day. They could go park outside the city, but that
means more miles driven. Plus, they all need somewhere for recharging,
cleaning, and maintenance. Now, here’s the thing: It’s easy to imagine
a future where automation is so efficient, none of this really matters, For example, this study estimates a 25-35%
increase in traffic flow, which is very encouraging, Here’s the catch: only when nearly every
vehicle is self-driving. Eventually, cars will no longer have the monkey
coordination problem, where one car can slow down a city. But that’s the key: It only takes a single
non-self-driving car. Even with 75% driverless, the study says “the
improvements are minor.” So, someday they may solve the transportation
problem, but first, they could make it much worse. The most efficient way to travel isn’t the car, or train, or plane, it’s… your feet – minimal infrastructure, and a very small well… footprint Almost as good are bicycles and skateboards. Of course, these alone are not enough, so
transportation is a balance. It’s not bus versus rail versus car, but
all of the above. When twice a day, 5 days a week, thousands
of people need to get from roughly here to roughly here, well, you’re probably looking
for rapid transit. Within the city, where routes and demand change
over time, the bus is probably your answer. But self-driving cars threaten this balance. The first to adopt them will be those that
can afford it, And as more and more upper and middle class
disappear from public transit, so will its funding disappear. To them, public transit will seem old and
unnecessary. But it’ll still be very important for much
of the population. If cities want to keep an efficient balance,
they need to prioritize accordingly Designing first for walking and biking – open
spaces, clean sidewalks, and instead of fighting the homeless, well, maybe fighting homelessness. After that, encouraging public transit – the
most efficient, cost-effective way to move huge groups of people. And finally, controlling the number of cars, Making sure drivers themselves pay their costs,
including those you can’t see. The price of tolls and parking should increase
with demand, creating an incentive not to drive, and managing congestion during peak
hours. None of this will be easy, but, ultimately,
transportation is an equation. The difference between an overcrowded city
and a comfortable one is finding the optimal, mathematical solution. Cities have to find the right balance of old
technologies and new ones like dock-less, electric scooters, bike sharing, even Segways. and, speaking of segues, A great way to learn
the math behind cities and the Computer Science enabling self-driving cars is with Brilliant.org. If you enjoy solving puzzles like “What’s
the most efficient way to lay out a subway network?” or figuring out how to use probability
to win games, you’d probably love Brilliant. Here, the way you learn is by doing – not
just memorizing. You solve a puzzle, or play with a graph,
learn the concepts behind it, then check your understanding. It gives you the skills to solve real, useful
problems, and, just as importantly, it does so in a way you’ll actually understand. For me, that’s what’s satisfying, not
just being able to use an equation, but explain how it works, and use that knowledge to create
something new. There are enough topics that you can explore
whatever interests you most – machine learning, astronomy, computational biology, and a whole
lot more. You can check it out yourself for free and
support this channel with the link in the description, brilliant.org/PolyMatter and the first 200 people will get 20% off
the annual premium subscription. Earlier in this video we talked about transportation
incentives. That topic deserves more attention, and it’s
the subject of a new video on the YouTube channel City Beautiful. I highly recommend checking out all of his
videos. He does a really great job explaining city-related
topics in an entertaining way, and there’s nothing quite like it on YouTube. Link is in the description, and thanks for
listening.


Reader Comments

  1. I love poly matter, but there is a massive flaw in this video.

    In the future, he expects people to own autonomous cars.

    Which won’t be a thing.

    Uber has admitted many times that human drivers only exist because AV tech isn’t ready yet; but once it is, that will be the end of the uber driver.

    The end game is the Johnny cab.

    AV pods will be deployed in strategic areas and then people will call them and get in to get from A to B. There won’t be parking as pods will pull up, the passengers will get in and out and dwell time will be minimized.

    Then the pods will return to a charge point, get juiced up, and then return to service.

  2. It doesn't matter what anyone says. A robot will never be able to drive on the same level as a living human being can. Computers do not possess the drive for self-preservation + driving conditions in the real world vary immensely. Just drop this dumb idea already and move on. There are much better and actual problems that technology can solve for us.

  3. There is already electric cars that serve the purpose these ones try to squeeze in on – its called the metro. Expand the metros instead of building fleets of these things. It just has to be more clever?

  4. How can shared public cars lead to congestion? Different types of industries just need to adopt different working hours so that not everyone wants to hail the car in 8-10 and 5-7 period. The concept of peak hours should dissolve. And technology should be used to reward people who accomodate others on the same way. Public vehicle sucks anyways and carpooling doesn't work since everyone has their time.

  5. So your argument is that more efficiently transportation will cause it to become more popular which creates conjestion. Elon has long already started solving that. It's called, The Boring Company.

  6. CGP Grey: Driverless/self-driving cars will reduce traffic
    PolyMatter: Driverless car wont save cities

    Me: Excuse me wtf

  7. There is no reason for people to live in a city. Putting 60% of everyone on 4% of the land on Earth is an incredibly stupid concept. Living outside of a city, in spite of your hate for cars, is the best solution.

  8. The cat/ dog fancy will disappear. You have to drive to the shows. With all the equipment and the animals unfortunately you gave to drive. I thought of cyber shows but it quickly pointed our me that the Judge has to feel the structure of the cat/dog and right now we simply don't have the tech to do that. Also the shows provide social gatherings that staying home just can't duplicate. So we need cars and trucks to get around just make them electric.

  9. What about enthusiasts like me who love to drive cars? What about ferrari's, lambo's, the mustangs, the drift cars?

  10. I've heard that bikes are by far the most efficient way to move on land, including all vehicles and animals. Humans alone are very efficient. When we ad a bike…

  11. My non existent children will be saved FROM cities…and the rest of humanity's nonsensical behavior. They won't have to share any skills or be brilliant and their spaces won't be squared as they'll never have to go inside a pine box.

  12. Its implicit in the video, so explicitly: city planing will need to be a/the major element. Rejoin jobs and housing; decentralize services and jobs. Currently we're subsidizing industry for bad decisions by letting the tax payer foot the bill both in the overflowing cities and the deserted villages.

  13. Are you sure that more ? The thesis of this video is questionable and easy to regulate in my opinion

  14. i'm sorry but this was a really bad video compared to your other work. this video doesn't really have a "point", or at least if there was one it was a bad explaining job because i couldn't really figure it out. you DID watch greys video right ? with self driving cars traffic flowing will only rise after having control of all the cars autonomously gives us all the room to find the 100% most efficent way of driving. the reason we are using self driving cars is not to "save cities" but to be more efficient, to produce less pollution. and to cause less accidents.

  15. The problem is that citys have small centers that everyone wants to get into. This model is favored by authorities planning cities, because it's easier to manage space, in which you have 4x people more in the same space, because you have 4x more taxes from them, while infrastructure cost are not rising only a bit. It's good for authorities but bad for life quality. That's the main problem in my opinion. The authorities say it's moral to drive public transport because of no congestion. But by allowing cities to grow around one city enter and agreeing for denser and denser urbanization, city authorities are trying to drastically (like supertaxing cars) resolve problems they cause in first place. Authorities still allow citys to have more dense and dense building , because as I said earlier, it's easier to maintain one street if 4x times more people live by this street, because you have to maintain the same street but you have 4x more money. Some infrastructural expenses grow, but not as much if whole city was expanding in space (but in a healthy model, not expanding suburbs with everyone working in the center and coming there for major entertainment they don't have in suburbs). Then the citizens would be more comfortable having more space and not one dominant center you want to get to, but for example integral city with a lot of distributed mini-centers. But such thing would be an immense challenge for authorities, requiring a loooot of work hours. So city planners (and mostly lazy officials that realize planners advice) are a bit hypocritical, telling us from what we should resign to make life quality better, while they themselves don't want to resign from the city development model thats easiest for authorities but lowering life quality and space for citizens. Some centers are so dense, that even brutally forced 100% public transportation model will cause problems, because we will have a congestion of buses, because those are really long and will have a problem with left turns, small intersections, if hundreds of buses would be present on street. Also imagine bus congestion at really popular bus stops in the center.

  16. can't you make things like train tracks but for cars in the air connected to the buildings

  17. Uhhh… there is no upper or middle classes on mass transit, at least not in America. They're all driving. So a switch to driverless cars isn't going to impact that in the least. It just keeps demand for mass transit from increasing. The problem in America is almost the opposite… cities are laid out in such a way that almost precludes mass transit being viable because they sprawl so much that the population density just isn't there. About the only places that mass transit even begins to make sense is in the New England area, and maybe certain sections of various metropolitan areas.

    As it stands, bus systems in almost all major US cities really, really suck from a scheduling perspective. Unfortunately, the funding isn't there to have decent routes and schedules because there isn't any ridership. And there isn't any ridership because the routes suck. Catch 22. Until something massively shakes things up, mass transit is going to really suffer in the US.

  18. Here in the Netherlands, we have cities that have banned all cars from the city-centre. I therefore cycle to work every day. It's great for your health, and since there are no cars, I won't get struck by it or breathe in the cancerous fumes.

  19. This only made sense after my obsession … introduced me to bonds. T bonds and intrest rates. It's related in a creepy way

  20. You forget to account that ,people like cars for their privacy . if trains were desinged to give every one more privacy instead of min maxing to carry the most amount of people ,public transportation would be a lot more appealing ,well at least for me.

  21. 8:35 No no no, I fight homelessness BY fighting the homeless– a homeless fight club could reduce homelessness by 50%

  22. In cities driverless cars make sense, but out on mountain roads or county roads, driving is so much more fun. So a balance of both

  23. With more shared rides, there will be fewer cars in lots and fewer cars on the highways. They will be put to work, driving people around instead of sitting around in parking lots. Also, more rides will be shared instead of transporting just one person like they do now. Ride sharing services don't necessarily drive empty on their way to a pickup. Often, they pick up their next customer close to place where they dropped off their previous customer.

  24. People don’t wanna own robot cars.
    Driverless cars are mainly for ride share, so that means less traffic overall to realize the same density of people.

  25. So what about the 9 years old expert on reddit telling us that electric cars will save the world from extinction?

  26. I agree with the basic premise of this video, mixed transport systems of public transit and autonomous cars is necessary, however it misses the fact that once the majority or cars on the road are self driving and communicating in tandem then that means that traffic flow can move in tandem which causes the entire flow of cars throughout a city to move much more efficiently. So instead of in a regular traffic jam where cars start and stop like a series of dominoes all the way down a line of traffic, if those cars were all self driving and connected as a single intelligence then they would all move and stop in sync with one another (like in the lego movie) which would drastically speed up the flow of traffic. I still agree though that cars should be the least numerous type of transportation on roads if we're talking about sustainable cities.

  27. You asume a utopian future where everyone is as considerate as you. Where those in your "society" are intelegent, capable, not messy – destructive – and / well assholes.

  28. The funniest thing you said in this video was that the govern’t could find something better to do with that 7 billion hah. And as a American no one wants to rideshare. It’s so freeing to be in your car alone commuting to work in the morning. No one is bothering you, you have your own space, you can drive like you want to and listen to whatever music you want.

  29. In the UK public transport is expensive, dangerous, stuffy, cramped, too cold/too hot, outdated, unreliable and suffers from one really major problem. No routes around the circumference of cities. You can go out to in, in to out, but not around.This makes it unusable unless you take convoluted journeys or unless your goal is to only ever travel in one direction. Great for worker drones, not so great for a lot of recreational journeys.

    I'll keep my comfy car for now without having to suffer 5 random people pushing up against me like sardines in a can.

  30. We could have driverless cars OR we can just go back to electric street cars, which will be 1,000,000x more environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and traffic congestion would become ancient history… Funny how the TRUE solution is actually reverting back to 100 year old technology that has always been better than what we have had the last 80 years.

  31. I don’t want self driving cars and people doesn’t actually want self driving cars. They prefer self driving cars because how expensive to buy and maintain automobiles has become. Cars used to be relatively cheap and reliable but now they are very expensive and designed to break down the minute their guarantee runs out. That is the real problem.

  32. It will be in the mix, that's just common sense. Especially when hubs become a thing. Computers will bring you to progressively larger transportation in time frames that expedite the flow of traffic. Someday, you will wake up, get ready, and step out the door to a car waiting for you. That car will have other people in it and it will be rather smallish. Then the car drops you off where you get on the bus with dozens of people that were on the cars. Then the buses will take you directly to a stop where you could get off and get on another car if necessary. Otherwise, you would get off at a much larger bus, train stop or subway. These will all be timed closely. You move up the chain and down the chain of transport based on your transport requirements. The computers will reduce the amount of time needed at each stop by using alternates and replacing stops with surplus vehicles. EV stations nearly everywhere would allow units to come on and off the grid in moments. Furthermore, lights and speed limits could be radically changed to make your average trip velocity much higher. Some people have horrible times of single miles per hour average velocities. You could easily triple those speeds which would third the time. Of course, all of this requires ending self driving.

  33. You talk about how the free market with parking spaces in Brittan worked to the consumer's benefit, then advocate that government get more involved with more regulations. Hmmm…

  34. Charging fees to use the road seems like a recipe for unrest. Since the poor often make longer commutes. Better would be to provide alternatives that people prefer.

  35. Polymatter:Instead of racing to work, you’ll sit back, relax and generate ad revenue for me.

    Adblock: I don’t think so.

  36. Cars for the country where distances are wide and public transport demand is low but everywhere else public transport and walking/cycling.

  37. I wonder what the effect would be if Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) was widespread. The vehicles would be more space efficient than cars, but it might reduce cycling and walking.

  38. self driving jeeps would be cool, jeeps can contain 10 to 14 people, and if they drive there selves, that will help

  39. This video summed up:
    -U.N Control Grid is desirable
    -Driverless Cars that monitor you 24/7 and can be used to kill you are great
    -"Global Warming" (lol)

  40. Battery powered electric cars are pretty terrible for the environment, objectively worse than a petrol car with proper maintenance.

  41. People will not have private cars anymore. Prices for self driving taxis, combined with efficiency to pick closest car, will make having private cars not worthy

  42. You’re forgetting that unless you own a self driving car, it never actually has to park. As soon as it’s dropped you off at your destination it’s been assigned a new passenger and is on its way to pick them up. No sitting in a parking lot taking up space until you’re ready to go to your next destination.

  43. People in teslas that think they're saving the planet are some of the stupidest people ever. Me driving my 25 year old car that gets 29mpg average with multiple people inside of it is doing far more for the 'environment' than you taking up road space driving yourself to places you don't need to go.

  44. Lyft and Uber have already became a problem of their success, CONGESTION. Here in San Francisco at any one time every other car is a ride share car (empirically determined by observing Uber/Lyft sticker vehicles). They clog streets to pick up and drop off passengers. They block or slow down an entire bus of commuters, leading to higher commute times. Cities need to tightly regulate by statute and rigorously limit the number allowed which they can easily do by tapping into the driver network. The convenience of an Uber ride is provided by inconveniencing other drivers and commuters, yet another tragedy of the commons at work.

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