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  (Source: Damjan Stankovic via Relogik.com)
IBM patent goes Big Brother

Running red lights and failure to stop leads to untold numbers of traffic accidents around the world. Sitting at a red light with cars idling also burns fuel that really isn’t needed.

IBM has filed a patent application that outlines a system that would turn the motors of a car off at a traffic light to conserve fuel. Few will take issue with green technology that conserves fuel, saves them money, and reduces pollution. However, there is a dark side to the patent application that privacy advocates will not like.

The system IBM is proposing has to have access to the engine of the vehicles at the light to stop the engine. With access to the engine, the traffic lights can not only stop the engine of a driver's car, but it can also determine the duration that the engine is stopped and then when the light is over it can start the motors of the cars up in sequential order so the first cars at the light get to go first. The system would use GPS data to know where vehicles were located at the light.

The patent application reads:

Vehicle fuel consumption is a major component of global energy consumption. With increasing vehicle usage, there may be more traffic and longer wait times at traffic signals (e.g., at a traffic intersection or a railway crossing). Fuel may be wasted when drivers keep their vehicles running while waiting for the traffic signal to turn "green" or waiting for a train to pass at a railway crossing. Most drivers may not switch off their engines in these situations. Drivers who do switch off their engines may do so inefficiently. For example, a driver may switch off the engine, only to start it up a short time later. In such cases, more fuel may be consumed in restarting the engine. Some traffic signals may have clocks that indicate remaining durations before the signals change. However, drivers in vehicles waiting at the back of the queue may not be able to view the clock.

There are other aspects of this technology that the patent application doesn't spell out. For instance, this system would make it impossible for a driver to run a red light. There could also be safety issues to a system such as this. For instance, what if a driver had a medical emergency and the light turned off the car making it impossible to reach a hospital. The system would require software and hardware be installed on vehicles at an unknown cost.



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Is this a joke??
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2010 10:23:31 AM , Rating: 5
Keep your fucking patents out of the drivers seat of MY car, IBM. I refuse to accept that suddenly, after decades and decades, red light traffic accident's call for extreme measures like this.

I refuse to accept any device in an automobile of mine that circumvents my control or exerts it's own. Cars that park themselves? Cars that stop themselves? How is ANY of this going to lead to drivers making better decisions? So instead of enforcing proper car usage, we're just going to engineer our way around it and create a new breed of spoiled, unaware, dependent on gadget morons behind the wheel. Brilliant!




RE: Is this a joke??
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 5/26/2010 10:25:22 AM , Rating: 2
Luckily, start-stop systems for engines are being implemented (albeit slowly), which could eliminate at least the "eco-friendly" aspect of this patent application.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Micronite on 5/26/2010 10:51:16 AM , Rating: 5
I think the point is that IBM files patents for everything (they've almost always been #1 in filed patents). That way, if anyone wants to market something similar, they can usually collect royalties for it.
They don't actually have to be the ones selling it.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Mitch101 on 5/26/2010 11:06:19 AM , Rating: 4
I think I know where the idea for this came from and I cant blame them.

In Charlotte Off Harris Blvd is IBM drive and the people who work at Wachovia ignore the traffic lights so badly that you will see 3-5 cars run through the red light crossing over Harris blvd and causing gridlock on this major road. At least once a week I am nearly side swiped by the extra cars running the red light coming from Wachovia. Plenty of cars get through the light when its green its just that the people at Wachovia here continue to pass through the intersection blocking the other side from getting a car through. So I wouldn't be surprised if someone from IBM is getting tired of Wackovia drivers mucking up Harris Blvd. First Union merged with Wachovia some time ago and the joke was you know First Unions initials right? F.U. Now they are owned by Wells Fargo. But since IBM is here I bet thats where the idea came from. Sounds like a Wacko patent but its really Wackovia drivers that started it all. :)


RE: Is this a joke??
By paydirt on 5/26/2010 3:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, if you know people run a certain red light, then don't proceed into the intersection until the cars in the offending lane are stopped. Otherwise, it's your own damn fault for either being stubborn or not thinking ahead.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Mitch101 on 5/26/2010 6:55:20 PM , Rating: 2
You literally will have the green for a full 3 seconds and they are still blowing through the light and changing lanes forcing their way in. There are three lanes and they will whip to the full outside at times which is your closest lane. Sometimes they just dont care and block traffic because there is no longer any room for them to cut in thats where you really have to watch out because they will change a lane because they are about to block traffic.

There are 3 intersections there that practically every light change someone is plowing through the red lights 2-3 seconds after its changed to red. The cars coming from Wachovia's campus are by far the worst offenders of this. Cops could write 2-5 tickets on each light change.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2010 12:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Luckily, start-stop systems for engines are being implemented (albeit slowly), which could eliminate at least the "eco-friendly" aspect of this patent application.


Stop-start systems are as equally unwarranted. They only actually save fuel if you are stopped at an interminably long time. How many times have you stopped a red light only to have it turn green a few seconds later? Countless times. Stop-start systems in most situations not only would use more fuel, but add entirely too much wear and tear to an engine.

Plus, of course, the premise behind them is asinine. That idling cars are killing the planet or some such nonsense. We're all tired of hearing that crap. I'll turn my car on and off when I see fit, because I am licensed by my state and have met the qualifications of a competent vehicle operator. It should be OUR decisions to make, not a computers.


RE: Is this a joke??
By AnnihilatorX on 5/26/2010 6:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
Man if you read the patent, it is trying to create vehicle uplinks to vehicle comptuer from information of the traffic light, so that, if the traffic light is going to be red for a while, it will tell the car to stop the engine, not always when it's red, hence the word intelligient

Secondly, while you think you are a competent vehicle operator, there are many who think they are but aren't.

Having said that, traffic light systems that optimise traffic flow and reduce stop-start behavior will ultimately save more fuel I think.


RE: Is this a joke??
By corduroygt on 5/27/2010 3:22:45 PM , Rating: 3
<quest>Stop-start systems are as equally unwarranted. They only actually save fuel if you are stopped at an interminably long time. How many times have you stopped a red light only to have it turn green a few seconds later? Countless times. Stop-start systems in most situations not only would use more fuel, but add entirely too much wear and tear to an engine.</quest>
An engine restart uses the same amount of fuel that's consumed by 0.7 seconds of idling:
http://www.bosch-kraftfahrzeugtechnik.de/media/en/...

Thus, even a few seconds will save you time.
Second, as long as the engine oil has warmed up to operating temperature, there won't be any extra wear and tear on the engine. A smart start-stop system won't be activated in cold engine temperatures.


RE: Is this a joke??
By iFX on 5/26/2010 10:27:19 AM , Rating: 5
IBM's R&D divisions are huge. Most people these days forget that IBM is a hardware manufacturing company first. They have insane R&D going all the time. Chances are if you have an idea, IBM had it 10 years ago but just couldn't make it work that available tech from the aera and have spent the last ten years creating the tech. Tablet PCs are an example, IBM thought them up in the 70s.

All of this is to say that most of the stuff IBM comes up with they don't ever put into production, much of it is designed for some other project and they use examples like this traffic light thing as a proof of concept for a technology they have developed.


RE: Is this a joke??
By ClownPuncher on 5/26/2010 2:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
Like many many other inventions attributed to IBM, the original tablet PC designs were done by PARC, which is Xerox. Alan Kay = the man.


RE: Is this a joke??
By iFX on 5/26/2010 6:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
The concept is all IBM dating back to 1974...


RE: Is this a joke??
By Camikazi on 5/26/2010 10:33:08 AM , Rating: 3
I don't like this, first of all doesn't a car use a rather large amount of fuel when starting up (like a computer an big electrical spike when turning on) making the fuel conservation at a red light low if a gain at all (depends how long light is red). Secondly, stopping people from running red lights might be a good idea, but, are these systems gonna slam on the breaks too, cause if it just turns off the engine the car will coast and probably stop in the middle of the intersection while the light is green for cross traffic. This just seems to not help at all, this might just make things worse, specially with a big truck being stopped at a light, big rigs tend to be more efficient leaving them on for short periods then turning off and starting up in same time.


RE: Is this a joke??
By clovell on 5/26/2010 12:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
Fuel efficiency, privacy, forget all that. 90% of engine wear happens during startup. I'll let you guys figure out the rest of the math here.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Kurz on 5/26/2010 12:19:30 PM , Rating: 4
On a cold engine.


RE: Is this a joke??
By clovell on 5/26/2010 12:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
Fair point. Even on a warm engine, though - how many stop lights do you hit during an average commute?


RE: Is this a joke??
By Chernobyl68 on 5/26/2010 12:43:45 PM , Rating: 5
Anywhere from 0 to a dozen, depending on how much I've pissed off fate that day.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 2:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree that a basic start-stop system is useless for saving fuel. You rather pinpoint it on the head that you aren't stopped long enough. Also, at least with my farthers' Civic Hybrid, the second you let off the brake the engine starts up. How many times have you seen people who "creep" at the lights? Every time they do that the engine would start-stop, wasting more fuel. A true hybrid system like in a Prius is a much better solution/system. Those creepers won't start-stop the engine and you can travel the first couple seconds during acceleration on battery. That helps quite a bit when it comes to mileage.

That said, in a car where the engine is designed to start-stop like in hybrids you'd be a fool to think it starts the same as regular cars. I can't say it for certain about ALL hybrid, but many of them have larger starter motors. That way it revs up higher before starting. Less wear and tear. Don't know how much it helps, but it really isn't THAT bad. Have you heard about all the hybrids hitting 100k miles with little wear and tear?


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Is this a joke??
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2010 10:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
How can you feel the same as me, but then call me paranoid??


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 10:59:11 AM , Rating: 1
Because people do need to learn to do things like that on their own, but they will also never have the knowledge/information or reaction times of a computer. It's just physically impossible. You just take it to more of an extreme.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2010 11:28:02 AM , Rating: 3
You don't NEED the reaction times of a computer to safely drive a car though. If you DO need it, it means you are driving too fast and following too close etc etc.

Also, in life, accidents happen. They just do.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 3:09:47 PM , Rating: 1
Your last sentence rather makes my point. If you had a system that controlled everything you wouldn't really have accidents. You'd have some still. I mean, who predicts blowouts, malfunctions, and other such stuff. You just wouldn't have all the accidents that are caused by distracted drivers, and that's a lot more than actual accidents.

I have no trouble driving the way things are now, but I'm obviously not your average driver. Too many retards on the road, you know? Only choices are a system to control everything or to restrict who can drive. Everyone thinks driving is a right though so that wouldn't go over too well.


RE: Is this a joke??
By rcc on 5/26/2010 4:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, your list of things for the "system" to do waaay exceeds state of the art. What do you think this system is going to do in the event of a blowout that a competent driver can't? Does it know that it might be better to let the car slide off the road to avoid the parked car, pedestrian, curb that will flip you, etc. Even assuming the hardware and software was capable of making those decisions, the cost would be astronoical.

Personally, even if it was possible today, I wouldn't want all that crap in my car. Although, come to think of it I can think of a few people that might benefit.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 6:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't suggest any of what I said was possible today. In fact, I have suggested that it's not possible today, just that it's obviously the best way to go in the long run.

The list of things this system would have to know and take into account is astronomical. It'd probably still be infeasible even in 50-100 years, though anything can change. The thing is this. Look at this like you would look at playing poker. Sure, unless you have no chance of winning you're doomed no matter what; but, the best poker players pretty much play by the numbers, aka statistics. Luck and chance have a part in everything, but most of the time it doesn't matter. 50-50 chances are where luck plays the most part, with neither choice being the best choice. The stats will always be on the side of any computer driven application, provided it has all the details/information. That is also what makes it very difficult to actually implement. Getting all the information is basically an impossible task.

My point is that a computer will almost certainly have the odds in it's favor every time even if it won't be correct every time. Even the smallest difference in statistics make a big difference. You only have to look at card counters at blackjack to know that.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2010 7:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
So admitting all that, you still argue with me because... for the sake of arguing?

Seriously wtf are you wasting my time for?


RE: Is this a joke??
By clovell on 5/26/2010 12:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I can handle cars that park themselves (Ford) or help stop themselves (Volvo) - as long as I have ultimate control over the vehicle.

I'd be more open to a system that, say, broadcasts a very short range radio signal to cars, indicating that the light is red. If manufacturers want to incorporate optional systems that are easily toggled on/off, that would then allow the vehicle to turn itself on/off based on this - I'm cool with it.

So long as it's like cruise control - off by default, does what I tell it - I'm cool. Doesn't sounds like that's what they're plannign though...


RE: Is this a joke??
By ZachDontScare on 5/26/2010 4:06:10 PM , Rating: 2
I think you need to patent THAT right now, before IBM steals it. Its a much better, more feasable, and more reasonable idea.


RE: Is this a joke??
By adiposity on 5/26/2010 12:27:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Keep your fucking patents out of the drivers seat of MY car, IBM. I refuse to accept that suddenly, after decades and decades, red light traffic accident's call for extreme measures like this.


Come on, IBM is just patenting an application. Governments would be the ones who would make our lives miserable with this sort of thing.

Granted, IBM is making it easier. But in a free market, shouldn't IBM have the right to make terrible technology?


RE: Is this a joke??
By frobizzle on 5/26/2010 12:43:14 PM , Rating: 2
Picture the middle of February...Temperature is -10F, snow falling at half an inch an hour. Traffic running dog slow. A traffic light is ahead but traffic is backed up a mile or more in each direction.

Now, thanks to this new technology, my engine is shut off while I sit waiting??? Uh, no thanks! This may sound good in the warmer climates but here in the frigid north, we don't want any of this crap!


RE: Is this a joke??
By marvdmartian on 5/26/2010 2:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
Your post reminded me of when I lived in Modesto, CA, back in the late 80's, and they had "cruise night" every Wednesday evening.

Can you imagine it? Traffic moved slow as a snail anyways, but now they'd have all those cars, stacked up bumper to bumper, shutting off all at once! Sort of takes the cool factor out of cruising, doesn't it? ;)

Also, what about those of us that want to do a right on red?


RE: Is this a joke??
By ZachDontScare on 5/26/2010 4:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
And what happens when a car fails to re-start... causing a massive traffic jam? Whats that going to 'cost', in terms of lost time and productivity, the economy?


RE: Is this a joke??
By Hieyeck on 5/26/2010 1:10:30 PM , Rating: 2
I was coming back from a long drive when my radio started sounding funny. Immediately, I shifted to neutral and revved the engine - solved the problem for about 2 minutes. GREAT, dying battery (old car - 18 year-old factory original battery inside!) I made it to the closest shop through two dozen red lights and rush hour because I didn't let my car stop revving.

I absolutely REFUSE to believe a machine (at current levels of automation) will understand the situation better than me.

If this gets put into production, I can't wait for the first lawsuit because an ambulance got switched off running a red light.


RE: Is this a joke??
By Alexstarfire on 5/26/2010 2:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
Why do so many people assume this is going to be a super simple system? There is no way in hell they'd just shut off EVERY car on a road, even only a portion of a road, just because the light turned red. It's just not that simple. You'd have multitude of issues, many of which have been stated already.


RE: Is this a joke??
By myhipsi on 5/27/2010 10:18:14 AM , Rating: 2
I agree whole-heartedly Reclaimer. Remember, this patent is coming from a company who helped fascilitate (by way of their punch card computers) the extermination of six million Jews during the holocaust. So, is it any surpise?


RE: Is this a joke??
By corduroygt on 5/27/2010 3:11:33 PM , Rating: 2
Godwin's Law...


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein











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