Posting in Energy
IBM looks into stoplights that remotely turn off the engines of idling cars.
As more cars hit the road in coming decades, this could likely get worse.
To all of you yellow-light blasters, don't worry. The light wouldn't brake for you but turn off your engine after your car was already stationary at the intersection. Taking into account how much longer before the green signal shines, the light would restart your engine at a time that would optimize fuel efficiency.
But not too soon and not too late. The calculation would need to consider when stopping and starting the engine would burn more energy than simply idling. The location of your car in traffic would also come into play, with the first engines to turn on being at the front of the line.
Just how the stoplight system would determine what that precise time would be for your specific vehicle—old, new, standard, hybrid, electric—sitting at the front, middle or end of the line, I don't know. And the patent doesn't say.
IBM has not decided on, or perhaps developed, the technologies to deploy with their traffic light idea. But they list the following as some possibilities:
- Have light system receive data from GPS, Wi-Fi or cellular networks, or weight sensors beneath the road to determine car location.
- Send notification displays to the car telling the driver to manually switch the ignition.
- Have drivers participate through a voluntary member program.
The system might only be worthwhile in an area's larger and busier intersections, and as IBM suggests, at railroad crossings for long freight trains. In any case, given many peoples' attitudes toward having complete mastery over their vehicle, my hunch is the notification display would be most popular. After all, a car may currently parallel park for its driver (or should I say passenger?) but this might differ from people allowing a third party, even temporarily, to remotely control their car.
Time and more research will tell whether this patent will ignite or remain idle.
May 26, 2010
Some countries in Europe already have countdown timers so people know when the lights will be changing (both red to green and vice versa). The BMW and Mini (owned by BMW) manual gearboxes automatically switch off if the car comes to a standstill in neutral, leaving the air con and radio etc running. As soon as the clutch is depressed the engine restarts within a second or two. I am sure other manufacturers also have this function but these are the only ones I have experienced. Nice idea from IBM, but flawed in its current form. Am sure future revisions will end up in use though.
I didn't like the concept idea .. stupid one. Lot of problems associated. Better to put timer at each red light .. today's drivers are wise enough to think that when to turn off the engine.
Hybrids make this system unnecessary. Also, I suspect many of the commenters have not driven a Prius. Allow me to educate. If you stop the car, the engine turns off. If you need AC it is electrically powered. If you need to go, for any reason, stepping on the gas pedal turns on the engine instantly. So there is no problem. But the idea is interesting. Perhap it could inform the car that a red light is coming up and feedback to the user to coast to a stop and thus saving some energy. Hmmm, and maybe when the light turns green, my car can tell me so the guy behind me doesn't have to beep at me.
How about that emergency vehicle barreling towards you with sirens wailing that you need to get out of the way of...What idiots thought of this idea!! Lets not forget those with junkers that don't start without having to get out and hit the starter with hammer. Back to the drawing board for the overpaid engineers.
How about that emergency vehicle barreling towards you with sirens wailing that you need to get out of the way of...What idiots thought of this idea!! Let?s not forget those with junkers that don?t start without having to get out and hit the starter with hammer. Back to the drawing board for the overpaid engineer?s.
How about improving traffic flow with networks of intelligent traffic lights? Why do we have to wait at each stop light for a fixed amount of time, no matter what is actually happening on the street? Using sensors to determine traffic loads and then calculating and executing optimal traffic light patterns is much more imperative than trying to determine whether to turn off an engine for a few minutes.
Safety is compromised by forcing engines to stop. Car jackers WILL gravitate to force-stop intersections. I'm pretty sure that IBM has thought about the car-jackers. What they probably have in mind is to have at each intersection a police office or two to watch out for those "car-jackers". Those police officers or "light-guards" will be paid by IBM. So, while IBM might be helping people and the environment with the gas saving, they will also be helping the economy by requiring that millions of "light-guards" be employed for those intersections. Obama wants a jobs creation program and IBM's idea would be a good one to adopt. ;) ;)
Kagnewrick and CptMatt have given probably the best arguments against this. Safety is compromised by forcing engines to stop. Car jackers WILL gravitate to force-stop intersections. You can't get out of the way of out of control vehicles. How many people won't be aware that the traffic light was the reason their car stopped? IBM shouldn't be spending their money on this idea. Besides, I already turn off my engine if I know I'll be stopped for more than a minute(trains, ATM, etc.). Education is the solution to this particular problem. Just telling people to turn off their engines would cost the same as telling everybody about the new technology.
Totally useless. By the time this idea could be implemented, many vehicles will be hybrids or electrics. Hybrids already shut down when you stop and start up immediately when you need to go. This technique could be adapted to all vehicles. The best recent invention are the walk/don't walk signs with the digital count down which makes it much easier to time yellow and red lights so you don't end up running a red light. The last two items to be addressed would be to improve left turns and to stop people from clogging intersections in heavy traffic. The Do Not Block Intersection law seems to be incomprehensible to a lot of drivers.
We note that some of us who are participating in this thread have expressed fear of loss of control over our own cars as a result of being usurped by all this technology. My philosophy is that the proper relationship between highly sophisticated cruise control systems, Intelligent highways, et cetera and the driver of a car, is similar to a proper relationship between the captain of a ship and the harbor pilot, or between the captain of a jetliner and the autopilot. It is part of the longstanding tradition of the sea that, while a harbor pilot may have highly intensive knowledge of the ebb and flow of tides and currents in the waters in and around a particular harbor, the captain of a ship is still the captain even when the harbor pilot is aboard. Likewise with a jetliner, no matter how sophisticated the avionics may be, the captain is still the captain. So it must be with one's car. YOU are the driver, and should have the right to -- and have the duty to remain awake and not zonked out on alcohol or drugs so you are able to - take control of your car if all this highly sophisticated technology goes awry.
WOW sounds like they thought of every thing. OH wait what about Motorcycles ? Will it shift it into lower gears ? into neutral for restart? Sounds like the same problem we had with the new gas hoses, We have to hold the anti-fume attachment by hand to fill up. Which makes it useless. So with this stop light thing we will have to shift manually so we could restart at any time right ?
Because technology NEVER fails, right? Oh wait. . .I guess it does. A lot. It's amazing that such an unsafe idea would warrant coverage in a column about "intelligent" energy. I really wish IBM would focus on more important things. There's a lot of talent there being wasted on ideas like this.
This wonderful invention is a ?train?. All the car(riage)s stop at the same time. All re-start with no problems at the same time. All accelerate at the right time and at the same rate. Car(riage)s do not crash into each other. Pollution is minimized. We have utopia!
You've got to be kidding, right? It gets very hot where I live, and we already have way too many intersections controlled by traffic lights. If they started turning off people's engines while they wait at traffic lights, people would start dropping dead of heat stroke. It's already bad enough that we have to wait sometimes three minutes for a light to turn green, and when it does, the people near the front of the line want to hang around awhile and hold a convention to decide whether to proceed through the green light or wait for the next one, as if everyone behind them has all the time in the world. Whenever gov't gets involved, things always get worse, not better. We don't need big brother controlling our cars' engines. What we need is fewer traffic lights, more freedoms, and less gov't and fellow citizens wasting our time. As the population increases, this will be a bigger and bigger issue.
Would need lots of market testing to ensure practicability. I would actually use it. As a person who gets bored on my commute, I often play a game of optimizing my fuel efficiency. I shut my engine off on long downhill rides, like the one going east into portland, or on hwy-26. Then I use the momentum to restart the car. On average I get 56mpg in my crappy little Geo. I'd like to hypermill it and do some mods to reduce drag. I'm convinced I could easily get 100mpg with some fairly low cost mods and efficiency aware driving. Ah, its one of those projects that I'll never get too, maybe as an EET project. I'd like to completely rebuild the dash and all it's components; way more weight than is necessary.
...for stoplights to communicate with each other to smooth out the traffic flow? Today, if we're lucky, the local transportation dept. has synchronized the lights so that once we're on "the cycle", we have a nicely paced drive through several lights -- much better for the driver, and much more efficient than worrying about stop & start logic! The benefit of "smart" lights over the current fixed synchronization would be their ability to adjust to the fluctuations in traffic volume.
Don't you have to build something before you can patent it? You mean, if i had deep pockets and energy to engage in foolish ego-tripping, i could think up every hare-brained idea i can, and patent it? Without even proving it can be built, or was useful? Ummm... by the way, the patent is indeed broken... I downloaded a patent on getting a cat to chase a laser pointer on the floor. No joke.
Stories like this are why I'm looking to buy a truck now before things progress too much. I can't blame IBM, they are trying to make money for their shareholders. They also know that those in congress now are all too willing to force consumers pockets open in the name of all things green.
Why is it that the lowly consumer or citizen must make all the sacrifices when our governments and corporation do little to nothing? Instead of shutting off our cars, how about thinking of ways to ELIMINATE TRAFFIC LIGHTS! On my daily commute, there are about 30 lights. THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN HAVING TO STOP AT EVERY ONE. By the time I get home, what should have been a 10 minute drive has stretched out to 30 minutes. All the government and municipalities have to do is KEEP TRAFFIC MOVING. Green flow, eliminate unnecessary traffic lights, construct bypasses, overpasses, etc.. Instead, they're fixated on limiting speeds and basically grinding traffic to a halt.
Government regulations on the safety equipment in today's vehicles have already made the roads *MORE* dangerous than they were in the '70s. I remember sitting in the backseat of my dad's Oldsmobile...sans seatbelts...they weren't required then...hurtling down the highway at a blistering 70mph on bias-ply G70-14 tires and non-powered drum brakes, metal, non-padded dashboard, no head rests with a 455 cubic inch (7.7L for those metrically inclined) pumping out 500 horsepower. so yeah. The car *COULD* go faster, but you wouldn't want to! The steering was sloppy, it took half a mile to come to a stop at that speed, and there was *NO* safety equipment...no airbags, no ABS, nothing! you were running down the highway on a wing and a prayer. But you know what? This made you a better driver! You knew the car you were driving was a dangerous machine...you felt it as you drove it! You looked down at the AM radio for a second and you instantly swerved into oncoming traffic...you knew that and so you paid attention...you *DROVE* the car because your life depended on it! There was the real and palpable fear of sudden death if you had *ANY* kind of accident above the speed of 40mph! In today's cars, the driver and passengers are so detached from the *EXPERIENCE* of traveling down a highway, there are times when you really aren't aware that you are moving at speeds in excess to 80mph! Andy why? Drivers today are insulated by the false sense of security and detachment that what you are actually doing is hurtling a death-machine like a missile down a highway! Airbags, active restraint systems, speed sensitive steering and braking, safety glass windshields, head restraints...they all make you *FEEL* safer so that you can effectively ignore the fact that you are indeed the one who is controlling the very life and death of all those in the car with you as well as those on the road you are traveling on...so because of this, people feel confident in making driving a secondary activity! I say, bring back some of the danger of driving...make people aware of the potential of death. Bring back the feeling that 70mph is darn fast and deadly! Bring back Bias Ply tires! ed
I think if they are going to stop your car at traffic lights, they should also find a way to control your car at every juncture (so to speak!)- so that your car will slow down and accelerate automatically, and we would become like passengers on a train. I think they had something like this on the movie, "Minority Report". This way, we don't have to be a part of the actual "driving" experience, and accidents caused by human error will be eradicated. Or at least replaced by computer error! Come on, people don't want this kind of technology because they don't think it will make the roads safer, they don't want it because it takes the fun out of driving.
quote: "In any case, given many peoples? attitudes toward having complete mastery over their vehicle, my hunch is the notification display would be most popular." Which is the "most popular" option below? -government rams an ice pick through the eye of your choice -government strikes the back of your head with an 8 Lb. sledge hammer -government tears off the limb of your choice with a chain hooked to a bulldozer... My, we have become such magnificently stupid chattel...
I wouldn't want to uniformly require all cars to turn off their engines at traffic lights; that should be a decision each of us should make for ourselves. Hybrid electric cars like the Prius can get away with engine shutdowns at traffic lights because electric power from the battery pack is always (or should be always) available to get you moving when the light changes. But for those of us who still drive old-fashioned non-hybrid cars, it may be best to just let the engine run. What I would like to see, is some way for a traffic light to signal how many seconds it will be before changing from green to yellow to red, or red to green. That way, future cars with highly sophisticated master control computers will be able to manipulate engine variables and regenerative braking systems to provide the smoothest and most economical performance.
NOT a good idea from personal experience. What if another vehicle, approaching from behind, loses its brakes, the driver's distracted or it sinply goes out of control? In my case, I saw the semi coming and was able to move out of the way by rolling up on the sidewalk. The guy in front of me ended up with his midsize car becoming a subcompact.
If they spent a few million dollars on development of the idea, then they just lost that money. If people are given the option, most won't go for the stop lights taking control of their vehicles. Besides, the stop lights are "government", and once government gets a hold of an idea such as IBM's, then there is no telling what other uses they will find for it. So what else is IBM up to? Perhaps they can develop the idea to shut off all water use in people's homes after 10 PM in order to save water. Or perhaps they can develop a system to stop a person from using a car if the car has just one occupant in it. Or, perhaps they can prevent a car from starting if a person is overweight for his/her height (after all, the government wants us all to be healthy and not use so much of the new health care system's resources). The possibilities are endless.
If most cars are a hybrid or electric, this could work, but if cars are running on gasoline or hydrogen or something else, starters drain the battery too much to make this practical. There MUST be a bypass to restart the car for emergency conditions. The recent Toyota problems should warn anyone about how important easy bypass systems are.
It's very hot, your in the city and your car shuts off and so does your air conditioning, on top of that you just received a hot shot at the parking garage and you were on your way to buy a new car battery.
Stupidity at it's highest level. Without going into the personal and privacy aspect, how about this? Do you want to be the one sitting at a light late one night trying to get away from a car jacker and you can't. The damn stoplight shut your car off! Brilliant!