Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 14

Dispatches

Alexa! Take Me
to My Office As long
as they don't run
into each other, driverless cars will
change the future.
THE OLD SQUIRREL

Ralph Wanger

The views expressed here are those of the
author and do not necessarily reflect the views
of Morningstar.
In earliest times, men worked on the task
of moving people and things from one place to
another. A very few years later, a second
problem arose: keeping one bunch of moving
things from colliding with something else.
Today, a great deal of attention is being paid to the
introduction of driverless cars, and one of
the benefits of driverless cars will be the reduction
of accidents. Every year, more than 30,000
people are killed in the United States alone, and
10 times that number injured. The emotional
and monetary cost of all this colliding is an obvious
target for improvement. Engineers are
working to improve cars' navigation capabilities
with radar, lidar, electronic maps, and considerable computer power, so that each vehicle
can make its way unscathed to its destination.
That isn't the only way to solve the problem.
Railroads and airlines have gone to centralized
control systems where a combination of
humans and computers control all the trains and
planes in a large region. So, we have two
competing system designs, one controlling each
vehicle autonomously, the other controlling

the traffic in a top-down fashion. Let's think about
how some of these systems evolved.
Dangerous Work

About 1830, ingenious engineers in the United
Kingdom and then the United States started
building railroads. This was a big deal. For the first
time, people and things could move around
at high speed and low cost. Before long, the
railroads had more workers than any other sector
except farming. However, the life of railroaders in
the early days was dangerous. For example,
coupling train cars together was very risky because
a worker had to go between the cars to fasten
the couplings by hand. This was a tricky job for
anyone, and even harder to do when drunk, which
many workers in those days were most of the
time. Eli Janney solved the problem by inventing
the automatic coupler in 1873.
Starting and stopping trains also was very
difficult, because there were manually operated
brakes on each car. Brakemen had to perch
on top of the cars and turn a wheel connected
to a long shaft that set the brakes. They
also had to jump to the next car. It was easy to fall
off the top of a moving car, and if it happened
in a Nebraska blizzard, it might be months before
anyone found your body.
Then, George Westinghouse1 patented the
Westinghouse air brake in 1872, and it debuted
on the Pennsylvania Railroad that same
year. The brakes were controlled by compressed
air in a pipe, which in turn was controlled
from the locomotive cab and extended to each car
in the train.
The final step in making trains safer was
to keep two trains on the same track from running
into each other head-on. The first rudimentary
signal systems were devised in the 1830s.
When the telegraph was invented in the 1840s,
railroaders immediately recognized its value.
Railroad officials could put a telegraph operator
in each station; when the train stopped,
the engineer would get the all-clear to proceed

from the station. This was not only profitable
for the telegraph company, but the railroad rights
of way were an ideal place to put up the
telegraph lines. The locomotive engineers got
"train orders" on slips of paper, and this system,
with improvements, lasted until the 1960s.
Generations of little boys loved to beg the engineer
for his used train orders and put them in
a collection.
Today, most railroads use a centralized traffic
control, or CTC, where a dispatcher's office
controls all the trains in a large region. Each train
moves only under CTC control.
Accidents Still Happen

Still, despite the advent of CTC, railroad
accidents still occur today. That's mostly because
some railroads don't use CTC, with tragic
consequences. On May 12, 2015, a northbound
Amtrak passenger train derailed and wrecked
on a curved section of track in Philadelphia. Eight
people were killed and 200 injured. The
train was traveling at 102 mph in a 50 mph zone.
The engineer made the error of entering the
curve at twice the speed limit, with catastrophic
results.
The accident would have been prevented
if the train was equipped with positive
train control, or PTC, which was used elsewhere
in the same busy Northeast corridor route,
but PTC had not been installed in this part of the
track. An older system was in place on
the southbound track of the curve but not on the
northbound track, where the wreck occurred.
Amtrak came up with bureaucratic excuses for not
installing either of these systems. The proximate cause was pilot error, but Amtrak
management was clearly derelict in not installing
a modern CTC system on the busiest track
in the United States.
An even worse disaster occurred in the Canadian
town of Lac-M├ęgantic in Quebec. On July 6,
2013, a 74-car freight train was parked six miles
away from the town. The tank cars were

1 George Westinghouse (1846-1914) was a major inventor. He created electric signaling to replace the train order paper system. He also bought Nikola Tesla's patents for alternating current. He had a
marvelous battle with Thomas Edison, who favored direct current. Westinghouse won that war, and today your house has AC.

14

Morningstar February/March 2018



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018

Contents
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - Cover1
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - Cover2
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 1
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 2
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - Contents
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 4
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 5
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 6
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 7
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 8
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 9
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 10
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 11
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 12
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 13
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 14
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 15
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 16
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 17
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 18
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 19
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 20
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 21
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 22
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 23
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 24
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 25
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 26
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 27
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 28
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 29
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 30
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 31
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 32
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 33
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 34
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 35
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 36
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 37
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 38
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 39
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 40
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 41
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 42
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 43
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 44
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 45
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 46
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 47
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 48
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 49
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 50
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 51
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 52
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 53
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 54
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 55
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 56
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 57
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 58
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 59
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 60
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 61
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 62
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 63
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 64
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 65
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 66
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 67
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 68
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 69
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 70
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 71
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 72
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 73
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 74
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 75
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 76
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 77
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 78
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 79
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - 80
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - Cover3
Morningstar Magazine - February/March 2018 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20191201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20141011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20141201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/investorconference2012
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809_lincoln
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607_lincoln
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405_lincoln
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101201
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20091011
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090809
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090607
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008catalog
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008winter
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com