Second Life Transport Authority
|Tip: This page describes a privately operated vehicle system. The only official transportation authority in Second Life is the Linden Department of Public Works.|
Note: This article was made based on an interview given by AnnMarie Otoole to Ana Imfinity for SLGI. Many paragraphs are direct quotes from that interview.
Under this name are the vehicles released in traffic by AnnMarie Otoole. AnnMarie has been a computer programmer for over 50 years, first starting on UNIVAC III in 1959.
The name of this company comes from the initiales written on some of the vehicle bases and vehicles, where it appears sometimes as SL Transport Agency and SL Transit Authority. Second Life Transport Authority (or SLTA) is the largest transport company by the number of vehicles and the second largest company by land coverage, after the Yava Script Pods. It is a well organised company, with its own bases and a multitude of vehicles. If we consider the high number of bases, the amount of land holdings and the high variety of vehicles, SLTA is in first place at logistic potential.
All vehicles are in fact owned by AnnMarie Otoole, with the help of two other accounts: AnnMarie and Aaron M Jenkins. These two are just holding accounts and they only exist to avoid overwhelmig chat messages from vehicles. Although most of the vehicles you see appear to be owned by AnnMarie Oleander there is no such account. A bug in SL that allows objects to enter land set to "No Object Entry" was causing land owners to complain about vehicle encroachment. The Lindens are aware of the bug but don't plan to fix it. Despite tolerating the encroachment consequences of this bug for over 4 years they suddenly closed the AnnMarie Oleander account without notice about a year ago and refused to discuss the reasons or listen to appeal. Although they closed the account the rezzers were still all out on location so the vehicles continued to run.
The vast majority of bases look like gas stations, only that you don't find gas. Some stations have the sign SLTA or have modified names after oil compaies (like Hell after Shell). Important names from the auto industry are also present. Land is owned by the group Convicts. There, a traveler will most often find a vehicle waiting for passengers. Not all bases look like gas stations, some of them have unconventional design. Many other vehicles can be rezzed on command. Still, position of all bases is not known. From a total of 70 SLTA bases, about half are listed below:
- Banyan sim
- Timescape sim
- Cavedweller sim
- Roclaren sim
- Muskeg sim
- Birchwood sim
- Seyfert sim
- Gergonne sim
- Plusia sim
- Apoda sim
- Crumbi sim
- Manduca sim
- Lupulinus sim
- Epirrita sim
- Putiki Fold sim
- Yeot sim
- Eunpyung sim
- Straminsky sim
- Borgatti sim
- Effingham sim
- Horseshoe sim
- Westport sim
- Netherbeck sim
- Dauphin sim
- Svan sim
- Eldora sim
- St Maur sim
- Gangkhar sim
- Snicket sim
Although AnnMarie Otoole has made a few vehicle designs, most were either freebies or purchased that had the auto-navigation script inserted. With the closing of AnnMarie Oleander's account a large number of those were lost and can not be replaced in the future. There is a huge list of vehicles available at the SLTA bases and on the roads. The list includes everything, from classic and old cars to trunks, garbage cars and even micro-cars created for pocket avatars. Majority of them are freebie vehicles. Their presence is noted also by the engine sound they create and many times by the huge amount of smoke. It is not a good idea to stay in front of a SLTA vehicle, majority of them are not phantom and might push you away.
The list of vehicles include:
- 1923 Model T
- Bethillac Fleetwood
- Bugatti Royal
- Carbon Copy MGB
- Carbon Copy Austin Haley
- Carbon Copy Midget
- Chevy Impala Convertable
- Chrysle Convertable
- Duncan Farm Truck
- Garbage Car
- Horse Carriage
- Ice Cream Car
- M60 Tank
- Oui Coupe Roadster (micro car)
- SL Transportation Bus
- Steam Tractor
- Yellow Taxi Cab
and not only.
Nowhere Bus Line
These vehicles are the V-Metrobus and can be found in many places of Sansara, but also on Heterocera and on other continents. The name comes from NOWHERE inscription that is wrote on the bus where toe route should be. Their behavior makes them a special category. It has been noticed that they stay in a specific place and wait for passengers, usually in a rezz zone or a station. If too much time has passed without a passenger, they rezz anotuer bus in that place and self-destruct.
SLTA cars are roaming vehicles. They don't make a tour. They have a program that allows them to move and find their way along the roads. Many people call them drunk cars.
It is very important to know that not all SLTA cars behave the same. Some of them have a really chaotic movement, some are more clever. Not all cars have the same speed. There are vehicles that have a constant speed, while others are pushed by a multitude of small impulse. The speed is usually lower then that of the Yava script pods, a very important thing that helps avatars survive sim crossings. Also, there are a few vehicles that slow or even stop at a sim crossing.
These vehicles have a very interesting behavior. They turn left or right, avoiding obstacles. They know where is the border of the road. If the road ends or they hit an obstacle, they turn back and try a different approach. And if they get out of the road, they will try to return.
Still, sometimes SLTA vehicles behave strange. There have been observed vehicles running out of road, getting blocked at parcel borders or even flying. Sometimes, these cars end up in the top of a tree. This is the risk of the ride and this makes the ride mor einteresting. With the closing of the account, although vehicles can continue to run no maintenance or upgrades of the script can be implemented so I am in the process of using the AaronM Jenkins account to slowly replace the whole system. That process is not only tedious but it is on hold due to another bug that causes vehicles to disappear on sim crossings that (hopefully) the Lindens will fix soon.
Along with the account transfer and recovering the ability to upgrade scripts AaronM is able to do things like the permanent bus terminal you will see in the market place in Satellite sim. The upgraded scripts will have better immunity to the No-Entry bug and things like rez-on-demand taxi and bus signs will be added.
Measurements show that vehicle scripts consume more memory then the script of an opensource VRC train, but not that much to create lag problems.
Vehicles allow a few commands: Touch to start, touch to stop, touch the engine hood for reverse. When somebody climbs on board, usually a message tells this. Passengers have a chance to purchase one free car plus a movement script for 100 L$.
There is a function that removes used or stocked vehicles from the roads. Other vehicles are auto-returned when they got stocked.
SLTA vehicles are found on all roads of major continents. Their density varies. As expected, they are found with a greater frequency close to the bases and more rare on distant places. The high number of SLTA bases helps to a better land coverage. The ability to turn left and right helps vehicles to enter all roads. Since some of them are convertable, it makes them touch the final fronteer for roaming vehicles: water.
Land coverage depends on continent. SLTA vehicles can often be found on roads of Sansara, on Satori, Jeogeot or Corsica ,in Heterocera, Gaeta 5 or Sharp Continent. They are not seen on unconnected roads (like fragments of roads in Gaeta 5 or Gaeta 1, Bay City or the mountain road in Heterocera). Inside Zindra, their presence has not been observed. Roads of Zindra don't allow objects entry in many places and as a direct result no transport company can operate there properly.
All vehicles are tracked in an off-world data base that follows their locations, provides master controls and meters replacements at the rez sites to maintain a constant population. They navigate by mapping the perimeter of the land parcel, calculating a center line and attempting to drive along it. Despite the headaches it produces, the vehicles are all physical so they will follow terrain, have weight and inertia and behave somewhat like RL vehicles.
SLTA vehicles and bases are important for 3 reasons:
Transportation. Each vehicle allows passengers to climb aboard. Unlike the small Yava script pods, a SLTA car can take more then two people. The fact that these vehicles actually go nowhere and roam along the roads makes the trip incredibly unpredictable. Passengers are people traveling to a specific destination (that are happy to find a car and rest their feet), people looking for adventure (tourists) or residents that climb abouard without a reason. As of May 1, 2014, 111,275 different people have taken a total of 337,178 rides on the vehicles.
Decorative. Without vehicles, roads will have no reason to exist. The SLTA cars represent sometimes more then 90% of all vehicles, so they are making our roads more realistic. There are many people who like just to watch these vehicles moving on the road, without traveling.
On the sites, forums and groups, there are many discussions about SLTA vehicles. Some people want them to be removed from the roads, while some people like them to exist on roads as they are.