1. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Roads without cars?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by NeighborVoid, Jan 1, 2016.

    Context :
    Year 2220 CE; cars have been replaced by public transport for almost a century. Robots similar to Boston Dynamics's Big Dog are used for personal transport.

    How might roads and city layouts on early exoplanet settlements look if they are not designed for cars?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Humans will still need access to the public transit. Public transit will need predictable pick-up points and routes of travel for several reasons, not least of which is future urban development. A settlement may be haphazard because of small size and mutable flexibility, but a larger town or city is going to have lanes of travel, regardless of what is traveling on them. Cities had roads long before cars ever existed. A great example of how human need ends up superseding city planning is Brasilía in Brazil. It was planned with an idealized expectation of use and engagement by the city residents that did not end up actually answering to natural human use and engagement. No sidewalks in its original form (they were added later), public transport that the planners thought everyone would use in the way they designed, etc. It's an eerily beautiful place in a late 50's, early 60's Sci-Fi kind of way, but the way human nature overrode the planned use is a fascinating glimpse into organic dynamics. The initial city expanded, as all cities do when space allows, and the surrounding expansions answer to a much more natural, organic city feel than the original central city. I would spend some time researching that city, its successes and failures, for a window into the idea you are talking about.

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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'd also want to think about access for emergency services, freight deliveries, etc. Our roads aren't just important for moving people around.

    Maybe you could look at university campuses for ideas? A lot of them are designed to minimize vehicular traffic, but there's still usually some road access, even if only for the aforementioned emergencies and freight.

    Maybe also think about why people would be moving, and where to and from? Ideas from video games could be fun for this - What are those super-buildings called in the SimCity game, the ones you can build later in the game? I think the idea there is that everything a person would need is included in their own vertical building - shopping, work, entertainment, residential, etc. So sims would only leave the building for extraordinary pursuits - huge events, travel, or whatever. If your planets have any sort of atmospheric challenges (even just weather), it might be a lot easier to keep people inside most of the time.

    How/where do people work? In our world, I expect the biggest transportation need is the daily commute for workers. But if many/most people are able to work from home, this would change dramatically.

    It'd be cool to have deliveries handled through an underground system, maybe one that linked the various super-buildings together. And I guess emergency crews don't have to be human and don't have to need big vehicles - maybe robots can fly from one disaster to another, hook up to on-site water or chemical supplies, and turn themselves into robotic firefighters. Coffin-sized drone aircraft could pick up injured people and put them in some sort of stasis or cryogenic sleep on the way to the hospital or wherever the healers congregate, assuming the healers still need to congregate.

    I think you need to figure out the society and technology first, and then the road system will serve the society you develop.

    Fun!
     
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  4. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think you need to go back toyour basic technology. Do people / vehicles fly? Is working from home the norm? Has large amounts of onsite production - eg Star Trek's matter format machines replaced the need for moving freight? Is there anti grav?

    Then look at what vehicles you might need or want. How many. What types. Then think about roads. I have a work in progress - actually it just needs editing - where roads have become grass because everyone flies in floaters or flyers. So the grass strips are not designed for wheels but rather feet. However there are a few land vehicles - off road vehicles for the most part with big floaty tyres, which sometimes wander along the grassy streets.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  5. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    I forgot to mention that this is more directed towards the smaller towns. The larger towns and cities tend to expand vertically, making cars unusable. Most of everything has been thought of except standard walking in the early settlements.
    I have already figured out most of the tech and society.
    Law enforcement consists of robotic police that rise out of the ground when needed. Medbots are just as effective as hospitals. Material transport is handled by cableways.

    As for the atmosphere, it takes more than half a century of introducing genetically engineered plants to make a california-sized patch of land habitable. The atmosphere becomes more foreign around the edges of the terraformed area, requiring explorers to wear environmental suits.
    3D printing allows for people to manufacture from home, but it still requires raw materials and is exclusive to the wealthy. Vacuum balloons and lightweight materials allow for basketball-sized drones to achieve passive flight.

    The terrain is mountainous and covered in alien plant life, so bipedal and quadruped robots are used to carry people and supplies. The same robots are used as substitutes for cars in cities and towns.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, so then you know a lot we don't know.

    You just need to figure out what kind of roads would be needed for people living with your tech and society, right?

    I don't think it's a question that can be answered without knowing all that.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    With everything you've said above, and knowing you're focusing more on the "start-up" settlements, here's the scenario that plays in my head. I come from a family of accountants in real life (I'm the lone, rogue interpreter bucking the trend), so this is something I think about often in Science Fiction.

    That's a lot of different tech to have to ship to a new exoplanet to create a settlement. All that different tech means people to work on and maintain that tech. I'm the CEO of the Interplanetary MegaCorp that's financing this shindig. You, the bright, eager project planner come to me with this plan to have all these different kinds of people and technology sent to the site. I look at the cost. I am not happy. Not happy at all. I'm a mean, miserly little man, and that's why I'm the CEO. I ask you what the probability is of complete project failure. You give me a blank stare. I repeat the question. Your mouth moves like a catfish out of water. You haven't planned on that. I know you haven't. Why would you? Seriously. You have all these amazing ideas of what's going to going on in this new colony and thinking about disaster is not what made you the fair-haired child to whom we gave the commission. But it's time to get down to brass tacks. It's my money, and I likes my money, I do.

    I need you to cut the cost by a third, and I want a figure, even if it's just a rough one, by Monday, as regards probability that the whole thing will go tits up.*

    Economics: The science that Science Fiction loves to ignore. ;)


    *I'm not actually asking you to give this to me. It's just part of the little story.
     
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  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually Wreybies has a very good point. We're talking new colonies? Well they'll bring the cheapest most useful and reliable tech with them to start with. That won't be public transport because of the huge capital investment in the infra-structure. It won't be roads either. Who has time to build roads when you're building towns and growing crops etc? It'll be transport that doesn't need massive infrastructure. Off road vehicles. Things that float and fly. Roads and public transport come later.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  9. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    I suppose it would vary depending on the settlement. Most of the corporate settlements expand from around a major city where the infrastructure exists. People own whatever land they manage to terraform, so the settlements that are located farther away are generally populated by people with more power and wealth. Maybe they build only roads around the areas that are frequently used.

    What about transport across settlements? The terrain is rather mountainous. Most settlements have an airport/spaceport, but they aren't available 24/7.

    Side question related to settlements:
    Power on earth is mainly corporate, and the government is reduced to a figurehead. During the war for independence from earth, tensions between several major powers are exploited to cause the global nuclear holocaust of the fourth world war. With the corporations crippled, could the settlements lead to the revival of government?
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you say "government" do you mean "democracy"? Because from the sounds of things, the world you're describing has someone governing it - the corporations. You may need to look a little more closely at your definitions if you want to explore all this.
     
  11. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Government systems other than that of corporations. I somewhat assumed that it'd be implied when typing the response because autocorrect didn't recognize the word "corporatocracy".
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, okay, but--what void do you see needing to be filled? I mean, if you're looking for a democracy, then that's one thing, and maybe your little city-states could help democracy regrow. But in general, governments are based in population centers, so if you just mean government like "those who govern" it would seem more likely to come from the larger cities. IMHO.
     
  13. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Democracies, aristocracies, dictatorships, etc.
    The larger cities are funded by the earth-based corporations. The combined military power of the settlements surpass the corps after the destruction of earth, but I'm wondering if the economic influence of the cities could potentially turn the settlements into corporatocracies.
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who controls the militaries? Not the corporations?
     
  15. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm less imaginative than your other posters, but there would probably be a main street where people go to access what they need the most when the settlement is small. Roads could grow organically around it. Since you have transportation like Big Dog, maybe there are stations where people can board and get sent over rough terrain that is roadless. You'd save money in not paving or repairing those areas. I'm sure people would still need some roads to walk around in their neighborhoods, maybe dirt roads?
     
  16. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Weapons and armor can be 3D printed from raw materials. Independent settlements are populated by scientists and engineers, so they could probably construct their own militaries.
     
  17. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Settlements would probably go through a variety of transportation methods as they get larger.

    Walking only -> A few utility vehicles -> Everyone owns a vehicle -> Mixture of public transportation and vehicles -> Public transportation only

    Public transportation requires a large population to be financially viable, and small (and probably spread out) colonies that have just recently been founded may require off-road vehicles for the citizens to go about their business. People will always enjoy having their own space, and I imagine the people who move from large cities to colonies will desire their own space. No public transportation could even be a benefit of living out on a colony: the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want.

    I guess you mean they could manufacture robots to defend themselves?

    I expect, even with 3D printing, the factions with the most powerful militaries would be the ones who have engineers dedicated to creating weapons. They probably wouldn't share their weapon designs with others, so that they would be able to maintain an edge, and even with the ability for anyone to build basic weapons with a 3D printing facility, they would still have the resources to create much larger armies than small colonies could, and be able to pay experienced generals to manage their war machines.
     
  18. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Most of the more powerful factions were on earth when it got nuked into oblivion. They kept their best engineers and factories on earth and just shipped the supplies. The settlements independent from corporate funding are mostly populated by scientists and engineers because they're the only ones with the money and knowledge to terraform their own patches of land. After the destruction of earth, the corporate cities are vastly outnumbered but remain important trading locations.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Flight won't necessarily solve the problem either. Think what air traffic controllers do at the moment. They regulate the speed and height of all flights in the area, guide planes in to land, adjust takeoff times so nobody hits anybody else. Just being able to fly doesn't mean travel will be free of regulation, especially in heavily populated areas. There has to be some system in place, or accidents will happen.

    If everybody is flying instead of moving along on the ground, think of the chaos that will bring. Even if vehicles have bat-like radar that prevents them from colliding with one another, it will be very difficult to reach a destination if all you're doing is veering away from other vehicles. Will there be some sort of etiquette about who veers away, and who keeps on course? Interesting topic, for sure. Maybe roads aren't so bad after all?
     
  20. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Even with flying cars, you'd need to have lanes that are set aside for cars to fly through, which are essentially the same as roads, themselves. A good example is the layout of Coruscant in Star Wars, in which there are flying cares, but also lanes of traffic, etc.

    Also, flying cars would be very expensive compared to ground cars. Most likely not economically viable. As an interesting thought: I wonder whether a flying car designed for Earth would work on a planet with a different atmosphere composition, gravity, etc? Would be another challenge for a multi-planet civilization which uses flying cares. Depends on the technology I guess.
     
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  21. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Save that we already have driverless cars that don't just detect other vehicles they know the roads. Planes actually fly along roads too - virtual roads. It shouldn't be too hard if you can design a driverless car to design a pilotless plane.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  22. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Most technical challenges involved with a driverless car deal with how the car interacts with cars that are being manually driven, roads with poor conditions, etc. I imagine the software for a driverless flying car would be much simpler than a driverless ground car, although a flying car is still much more expensive to use, re-fuel, etc (unless someone develops very cheap anti-gravity).
     
  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's not the vehicle that would be the problem. It's the traffic, and the fact that every vehicle has a different destination. A driverless car (at the moment) will still be traveling on a road, won't it? It's the concept of not having roads that's the topic of this thread, unless I've picked it up wrongly. No roads ...lots of people and vehicles going every which way ...that's a traffic management problem. A problem that flight alone won't solve.

    I'm not suggesting it's a problem that can't be solved, by the way. I'm just saying that it's a problem that would need to be solved by the writer and creator of this world.
     
  24. NeighborVoid
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    NeighborVoid Active Member

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    Flying vehicles are not very common and are used almost exclusively to transport large amounts of supplies/people between settlements. Privately owned aircraft is nearly unheard of. The mountainous terrain is covered in trees that don't allow for proper landing.
     
  25. Matt E
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    Matt E Stormblessed Supporter

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    Adding a third dimension would make the problem simpler than on the ground though. Also, the main challenge in driverless ground cars is interacting with manually driven ground cars. A human can't be expected to pilot a flying car manually, so I'd presume that that problem wouldn't exist. All cars would need to be controlled by a centralized traffic control system, there's no doubt about that. I think it could be done though.

    How many separate planets has mankind settled in your universe? I'd assume that different planets would have different geographical transportation problems that would need to be solved.
     

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