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  (Source: Damjan Stankovic via
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 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?

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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