Print 77 comment(s) - last by drycrust3.. on Jun 18 at 2:54 PM

  (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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Not needed.
By drycrust3 on 6/18/2010 2:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
Running red lights and failure to stop leads to untold numbers of traffic accidents around the world.

There is an easy solution: RED LIGHT CAMERAS! These days, with even cheap point and shoot cameras having video and computer interfacing capability, it shouldn't be hard to make a camera that videos an intersection during the orange - red phase, so that if a car goes through the intersection while the light is red then the video could be at the police dispatch centre before the car has reached the next set of lights.
I do think they need to define exactly when a vehicle is legal and when it isn't because the lights are designed with a "rolling" traffic flow at the legal speed limit, not bumper to bumper peak hour congestion. In these conditions you can be on a green light, but have to wait for a space to appear at the other side of the intersection, and when it does you take off on a green light, but by the time you arrive at the other side of the intersection the traffic lights are red. This is especially so in a large vehicle such as a bus or truck.

Sitting at a red light with cars idling also burns fuel that really isn’t needed.

This sort of thinking just shows what is wrong with governments. This isn't about burning fuel, it is about how the local city council can't organise traffic so that it flows, or if you are more cynical, how they create congestion.
It wasn't until I became a professional driver that I realised how easy it was to not have congestion, and how easy and cheaply things could be done to keep the traffic flowing, and how difficult it was to get these ideas into the head of the local council.
Sure, I concede the sorts of things that need to be done "infringe" upon peoples right to hold up traffic for 3 or 4 minutes so they can turn into some road that has carries about 10 cars an hour at peak times, but those people could have organised their trip better (and yes, I also concede it does infringe on their right not to have to do that as well), but really, isn't sticking radio devices into a car to turn the engine on and off at our expense also infringing on our rights too?

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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