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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 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?

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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