Elon Musk’s Shabbos Car

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  • #1772168

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Elon Musk has pushed ahead his schedule for commercial sales of an “always on” self-driving vehicles that will be programmed to make pre-set stops on a circular route in urban areas. Could some variation of such a car be certified by The Institute for Science and Halacha as appropriate for use on Shabbos? Would additional passengers force the motor to “work harder” as was a concern with early Shabbos Elevators?? I such a concept even theoretically feasible under halacha?

    #1772485

    Joseph
    Participant

    You think it is okay to take a train on Shabbos?

    #1772518

    Doing my best
    Participant

    it probably is ok to take a train as long as you jump the barrier and pay another time.

    #1772524

    David Y
    Participant

    There is no need for the car to make pre-set stops. First, take a programmable electric car charged before Shabbat. It is programmed to, say travel to the Synagogue from the home at, say, 8:15 am and return at 12:30pm irrespective of whether it is occupied or unoccupied. It opens the doors automatically.
    Scenario 1:
    Since I haven’t heard anyone raising objections to the following variables on Shabbat:
    a) The number of heat emitting bodies (humans) in an air conditioned room set by way of a thermostat.
    b) The opening and closing of vertical refrigerator doors.
    c) The placing of warm material in a cold refrigerator.
    d) Opening a window when there is a thermostatically controlled heater.
    Then the additional consumption of power due to the increased mass of the car by passengers (increased current flow) through the car’s electric motors should not be of concern. This differs from opening a hot-water faucet on Shabbat since a water-heater has only on-off possibilities. A fire that was ignited before Shabbat may burn at a greater or lesser rate once Shabbat commences depending on multiple variable externalities. This is what separates halachic Shabbat observance from the sect (whose name I don’t readily remember) who forbade fires to be lit before Shabbat if they would burn over Shabbat. They spent Shabbat in darkness. Also, if it was intended before Shabbat that there would be an inclusive passenger mass of the car, then if the intended passengers did not board it, then would be classified as a reduced current flow / power consumption which cannot be a chillul Shabbat (surely Quantum physics attests to this). In any case the variations imposed by fluctuations in traffic density and time delays at intersections would increase sufficient uncertainty in much the same way that a air-conditioner would work more or less hard on a hot or cool day.
    Scenario 2:
    The car calculates the mean expected power for the whole trip for the expected mass inclusive of passengers and only applies the total current or less over the entire trip. This is messy and unnecessary for the the reasons given above. For the sake of the trip the car should be “dumb” to all variables and simply perform the job it was programmed to do before Shabbat.
    PS: The perceptive will note that I use the acceptable English spelling of “programmed” The author is a resident of the “land down under” – Australia!

    #1772575

    rational
    Participant

    David Y, well done.
    They were called the Karaites, and they still exist

    #1772623

    akuperma
    Participant

    If you hold that turning electricity on and off is the equivalent of burning (since the wires and machinery heat up, and eventually are consumed), then the answer is clearly “not allowed” (that being the case, you probably don’t use a “Shabbos elevator” and are not thrilled with modern refrigerators or ovens that increase their level of function in response to what users do).

    If you hold that electricity is not equivalent of burning, then the only object is “shvus”, you comfortably use a Shabbos elevator, you will probably allow use of an e-book (at least for learning and davening), and you’ll have no problems of using electric devices such as self-driving cars, and perhaps many more robotic appliances that don’t exist yet. You probably would be able to tell your self-driving car “take me out to ballgame” and drop me off by the main gate, and pay for entrance with an electronic device that doesn’t involve writing (e-tickets already exist),

    The use of Shabbos elevators, and appliances that react to use, is the beginning of a “slippery slop” and that there will eventually be a divide between those that allow electric devices, including self-driving cars and ebooks, and those that don’t.

    #1772635

    philosopher
    Participant

    akuperma, I’m not saying I would ever use a Shabbos elevator, but I fail to understand the difference between that and a lighting fixture set on with Shabbos clock, a refrigerator set to Shabbos mode, and an oven set to Shabbos mode with food taken out during Shabbos…The electricity on and off in all of these cases are set before Shabbos…

    #1772663

    akuperma
    Participant

    philosopher: A lighting fixture, with or without a Shabbos clock, does the same amount of work with or without you doing anything. A light does not burn brighter if someone is, or is not, using it. Appliances with a Shabbos mode that turn off at predicted time so they can be opened (which increases activity) also “solve” the problem.

    A self-driving car, even if set on clock that causes the doors to open and close at certain times regardless of whether anyone is getting in or out, and travel only on a fixed route (even if empty) would still raise an issue since the motor would have to do more work based on the number of humans involved (one should now ask if a “Shabbos mode” refrigerator or oven uses a thermostat which would mean the heavier use put on it the more the motor runs. This will lead to a debate on whether one can use a robotic Shabbos goy.

    It should be noted the some reputable people that using electricity does not violate “mavir” and if one holds that way, the only objection to using an electric car or an ebook would be that it isn’t “Shabbos-dik” (shvus).

    #1772671

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Simple question: Without debating the pros/cons of Shabbos elevators, which many are willing to use and others not, is there any fundamental difference between the two technologies. Fortunately, most CR readers have no problems walking whatever distance is necessary on Shabbos. Some don’t and if they are willing to accept a Shabbos elevator heter, why would the self-driving vehicle be any different if it provides a degree of mobility on Shabbos otherwise unavailable.

    #1772678

    philosopher
    Participant

    akuperma, thanks for the explanation regarding a self-driving car. I assumed that there’s too many reactive factors involved that the car would have to consider and react accordingly to the circumstances, like traffic speeds for example, so I didn’t ask that in my question to you. I asked why you consider an elevator to be different than a light set with a timer as an elevator is programmed before Shabbos at a predertimined speed and stops?

    #1772687

    philosopher
    Participant

    Gadolhadorah, I believe, as akuperma has mentioned as well, that a car will not be able to be simply programmed and set before Shabbos as it will have many factors to consider and react outside of what is able to be pre-programmed.

    #1772706

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    You think it is okay to take a train on Shabbos?

    If you dont have to pay and you dont have to open or close the doors (In Europe you have to open the doors) and you have no control over when the doors open and close , exactly what Melacha did you do? Its an issue of Ivdu D’chol, Hashghafa and other issues, but techonically its not forbidden D’Orasa

    #1772761

    akuperma
    Participant

    RE: Taking a train on Shabbos.
    Assume the “good old days” when you paid when you got on and could discard the ticket (or didn’t have one if a farebox was used and you paid with a coin or token), and assuming the train is operated by goyim, it would be possible to board a train before Shabbos (boarding after Shabbos would at the least require a Shabbos goy to pay your fare), and get off assuming you were on a train that made all stops so it would be opening the doors at your stop even in no one was getting on or off, and you were already Shabbos-dik, meaning not carrying anything. Under these conditions using the train to get home on Shabbos would probably be an option and I believe it was used fairly often in the “bad old days” before legislation 50 years ago introduced “reasonable accomodation” into American law. Today in that situation one has a problem since transit systems often require you to have a card to exit, and you would never be able to carry a fare card since it is clearly a cash equivalent.

    An car or bus would not be similar since it would require adjust for number of passengers (knowing who connected a seat belt, avoiding smashing people when the door closes) and once the car is reacting to your presence it becomes an issue (unless one holds that elecronic automated systems are inherently legal on Shabbos, which is problamatic to say the least).

    #1772789

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    You do not have to swipe a card to exit the NYC Subway

    #1772870

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Does this mean that you’re allowed to ride an escalator on Shabbos?

    #1772893

    devny
    Participant

    Can women drive a shabbos car, or is that not tznius too? I’m only asking cuz my chosson said I shouldn’t drive anymore cuz its not tznius. But maybe this would be allowed?

    #1772920

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Does this mean that you’re allowed to ride an escalator on Shabbos?

    Some things are more Ivdu D’chol , shabbosdik and hashgafa issues rather than actual issuring, ask for YLOR for that one

    #1772922

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Can women drive a shabbos car, or is that not tznius too? I’m only asking cuz my chosson said I shouldn’t drive anymore cuz its not tznius. But maybe this would be allowed?

    I have personally seen Rebbitzen Neuman drive and her daughter drives as well

    #1772983

    akuperma
    Participant

    In many cities you need to “swipe” to get out, and in most cities in America farecards are used so you would have to discard a farecard since you couldn’t carry it home (presumably you would buy a special farecard for leaving late Friday). You would have an additional problem of electronic devices connected to the exit turnstyle counting who is leaving. Also you would have to be careful to avoid getting caught in a door as that would trigger an electronic device.

    I suggest taking the subway home on Friday evening is best left for alternative history novels in which Jews have to be pretending not to be Jews to survive.

    #1772980

    kollelman
    Participant

    Regarding elevators on Shabbos: I was personally against this for many years, having quite a bit of understanding of electronics. After further research, I discovered that most elevators are not actually lifting, but rather sliding the elevator that is balanced against a counterweight. The net effect of anyone’s specific presence in the elevator is negligible.

    #1772989

    Joseph
    Participant

    The net effect of anyone’s specific presence in the elevator is negligible.

    Define “negligible” in this context.

    #1772996

    kollelman
    Participant

    As I understand, elevators are designed with a counterweight equal to the elevator filled to ~40% capacity. The elevator is not actually “lifting” or “lowering”, rather just sliding one side over to the other in a mostly balanced system. There may still be some additional strain on the motor, but nothing close to the force required to actually lift a human being.

    In an empty elevator with a single rider, the motor would have to hold back the force of the weight, which is attempting to pull the elevator up, whereas lowering the elevator in the same situation would require force to lift the counterweight, but not the person. If the elevator was filled above 40%, the exact opposite would be true. Raising the elevator would require more force, and lowering would require less force.

    #1772999

    laskern
    Participant

    The Chasam Sofer paskens that the issur of riding on a steamboat is not because of melacha but shaboson, not resting.

    #1773009

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    I would assume if no additional mass is added, there is no material expenditure of “energy” required to sustain forward movement in an elevator context. This suggests that Musk should consider changing their technology from an electro/ chemical reaction (battery) based vehicular propulsion system, to a FLYWHEEL/electro-mechanical based system.

    #1773023

    yehudayona
    Participant

    Don’t know if it’s still the case, but outbound Green Line trains in Boston used to be free if you got on after a certain stop. If the conductor opened the door for a non-Jew, would a Jew be allowed to hop on?

    #1773092

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    One is allowed to ride a boat on Shabbos if you dont get on or off

    The JFK Airtrain is free as long as you stay in the Airport and its all automatic meaning there is no conductor opening and closing the door

    #1773129

    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    “One is allowed to ride a boat on Shabbos if you dont get on or off”
    That makes the point. An ehrliche yid would get home from work early erev Shabbos and put on his Shabbos lvush and meet at least 9 of his BFFs (best frum friends) at the bus stop. They would all get on the vehicle before licht bentchen time, and ride around the route until its time for Havdalah and thereby aovid any chillul Shabbos. They could have a minyan on the bus have their meals onboard and maybe even have their own Kiddush club in the back if the guy delivering the d’var torah up front drones on too long and the rules don’t prohibit alcohol consumption (as most public transit systems do).

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