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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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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.


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