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Honda Crash Detection System 868

Posted by michael
from the pre-crash,-that-is dept.
MImeKillEr writes "MSNBC is reporting that Honda Motor Co. unveiled an early crash-detection system for one of their vehicles. The system is unique in working even before the driver responds. A radar in the front of the car stashed behind the Honda logo detects vehicles within a range of about 300 feet ahead. It then taps the brake and tightens the seatbelt. A buzzer goes off and a light on the dash is illuminated. If the driver responds, the braking power is boosted. If the driver fails to respond, the system kicks in and brakes more while also tightening the seat belt. Unfortunately, Japanese regulations don't allow for the system to fully stop the vehicle."
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Honda Crash Detection System

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  • DOes it work ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dargaud (518470) * <slashdot2@ g d a r g a u d . net> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:08AM (#6243023) Homepage
    Now I write radar software and I really don't have a clue how such a system can work reliably. A non-moving car 100m ahead ? That happens every time there's a parked car in a curb. Car radars are not like aircraft radars. The latter only has to see something ('anything') in the middle of a big mass of air. Nothing else around. A car radar would have to sort out lots of echos at various doppler: the ground is coming towards you (when it's far ahead), other cars going the same direction (slower in the right lane, faster in the left lane), cars coming the other way, parked cars, things hanging overhead (bridge, street lights. advertisement...)

    Just imagine driving on a mountain road and out of a right curb comes a car driving the other way. The radar sees it right in front of you, coming your way. How does it react ? I'd hate to see it break suddenly, particularly if the road is wet or snowy.

    • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brento (26177) * <brento@@@brentozar...com> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:12AM (#6243068) Homepage
      Just imagine driving on a mountain road and out of a right curb comes a car driving the other way. The radar sees it right in front of you, coming your way. How does it react ?

      It works fine. Check out the radar-based cruise-control [mercedes-benz.com] from Mercedes, now available on a few models. You can set your cruise to follow a vehicle ahead automatically. You just steer, and the two (or more) of you can pass cars and go through tunnels just fine without the cruise control panicking.
      • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Black Perl (12686) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:24AM (#6243236)
        Let's say you're on a 6-lane highway. All three lanes in your direction have cars ahead. You turn this thing on, and it follows the car in front of you.

        Now the highway turns sharply to the right. Suddenly oncoming traffic is directly in front of you. How does it know which car to "follow", i.e. keep a safe distance from? If it makes a mistake, thinking you need to keep a safe distance from oncoming cars, when you go around the bend it'll slam on the brakes and you'll get rear-ended (unless of course the person behind you also has this system, in which case he'd stop too. In fact all cars would stop at every sharp turn).

        Even if the system somehow knows exactly how much the road curves in front of you (which I doubt unless the road has transmitters or other indicators), it would be very hard to maintain a lock on the same car. Police radar cannot distinguish between two cars that are one behind the other. And if it doesn't track a specific car, how can it tell the difference between an oncoming car and a car ahead slamming on the brakes?
        • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by digidave (259925)
          Radar-based tracking is a fairly proven technology. It knows the difference between two different objects, so it starts tracking the car in front of you and should operate fine even if it switches lanes, so long as it's within radar range and whatever side to side, up and down tolerances are programmed.
      • by Uart (29577)
        Wow. I wish I had that. I hate it when I turn the cruise control on and then some asshat in front of me decides to make sure his brakes still work.

        I basically gave up on cruise control because of that.
      • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Proaxiom (544639) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:26AM (#6243254)
        I don't think so. This is way different.

        It's fairly easy for a radar system to pick something up in front of you, and for a computer to track it. What we're talking about is picking out all the things in your path, and figuring out if you're going to hit any of them.

        The trouble the previous poster was referring to is that so much depends on context. For instance, what if I'm in a left turn lane drive directly toward a car in an oncoming left turn lane? We're not going to collide, but does my car know that?

        • by medscaper (238068) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:52AM (#6243561) Homepage
          I saw the title, Honda Crash Detection System and I'm thinking, "Gee, that's retarded", while picturing in my head a horrid rollover accident with flying airbags and broken glass and bodies in the street...

          ...and this little red beeping "Crash" light flashing on the dashboard.

          Real helpful, Honda. {smirk} Thanks.

        • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by f97tosc (578893) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:03PM (#6243702)
          The trouble the previous poster was referring to is that so much depends on context. For instance, what if I'm in a left turn lane drive directly toward a car in an oncoming left turn lane? We're not going to collide, but does my car know that?

          Perhaps the emergency system does not kick in until the car can calculate that a collision is inevitable or at least come very likely. In your left turn example, this would not be the case, because both of you are travelling at speeds where you have plenty of time to break or turn before hitting each other.

          But if you came speeding into the intersection, the car could calculate that even if the driver would break, and/or turn, there would be no way to avoid a collision. Time to tighten the seat belt and try to slow down.

          Generally speaking, I am surprised to see how negative Slashdotters are to new technology, especially before knowing much about how it works. The assumption always seems to be that the implementation will be completely useless, dangerous and insecure.

          Of course there will be troubles to get this to work properly. Honda will solve those problems, and put the technology in their expensive cars. If it is efficent and cheap enough it will go mainstream. That's all there is to it, pretty much.

          Tor
          • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by elmegil (12001)
            I am surprised to see how negative Slashdotters are to new technology

            Perhaps because many of us have seen it fail miserably despite glowing claims?

          • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by lamz (60321) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:48PM (#6244157) Homepage Journal
            Generally speaking, I am surprised to see how negative Slashdotters are to new technology, especially before knowing much about how it works. The assumption always seems to be that the implementation will be completely useless, dangerous and insecure.

            I may not speak for all SlashDotters, but perhaps our negative attitude comes from having seen the little man behind the curtain a few too many times. Although I am a web application developer, I still do my taxes with paper forms, and refuse to sign up for receiving bills by email instead of regular mail. I'm perfectly willing to order t-shirts and books on the web, but for the important stuff, I want to see paper documents. And there are few things more important to me than the performance of the vehicle I'm riding in.

            Perhaps it is the typical SlashDotters familiarity with the concept of probability that makes us suspicious. What percentage of false-positives would be acceptable for a car that applies its own brakes?

            Also, I just keep picturing some driver getting creamed by a truck while looking back, asking: "Who's pulling on my seatbelt?"

            On the bright side, pay attention to the technologies that SlashDotters are excited about. Linux, Open Source, Macs, TiVOs, MySQL, PHP -- good stuff!
          • Generally speaking, I am surprised to see how negative Slashdotters are to new technology, especially before knowing much about how it works. The assumption always seems to be that the implementation will be completely useless, dangerous and insecure.

            New Technology is OK when its just geek toys, but when your life depends on it things are different. A historical example: Dive computers for SCUBA diving. Basically a SCUBA diver can stay at a given depth for only a certain amount of time. Exceed that time
          • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Belgand (14099)
            Slashdotters may be more accepting of technology than most. Then again we're also far more likely to make regular off-site backups.

            Knowledge and acceptance of technology is one thing, but with that knowledge you also learn a great deal about the problems of technology. Things can fail easily and sometimes things designed to help end up merely causing more problems and work. In this case I think it seems far more likely that adding in a dangerous, unpredictable element that will only have limited knowledge
        • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vladkrupin (44145) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:45PM (#6244135) Homepage
          exactly my point. How about a couple more confusing scenarios?

          1. Some dork cuts you off on the freeway and steps on gas. You don't want or need to break even though the idiot is only 20 feet in front of you.
          2. Wet pavement, your friend is tail-gating you. Now you neighbor's cat runs across the street. You would rather run over the stupid thing (and remove stupidity from the gene pool as an added benefit) than get rear-ended by your friend.
          3. You are merging into a tight spot on the freeway. If you push the breaks, you are likely to "clip" the car in front of which you are trying to merge.
          4. Some dork didn't bother looking when merging/fell asleep/whatever-else and is drifting into your lane on the freeway. Behind you is a semi truck. The only way (besides honking) to avoid a collision is to downshift into second gear and step on gas even though the car in front of you is closer than 300 feet.
          5. Your example of the left-lane turn is very good too. It's a classic "looks like a head-on" scenario.

          Also, sudden breaking under some circumstances (steep turn, slippery pavement, poorly distributed load in the vehicle, etc) drastically reduces responsiveness and maneurability of the vehicle.
          • 1. Slighty annoying but no major safety hazzards
            2. Durring an accident from tail gating the person who is tailgating you is responcible.
            3. Dude wait for a safer enterence.
            4. The semi-truck is tailgating you. See #2 and if you have an automatic downshifitng is not much of an option so you still have to slow down. If you crash into the car the semi truck will still run over you.
            5. How fast do you do your left turns.

            Please remember that they dont put you in a compplete stop just slow you down.
    • Re:DOes it work ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by American AC in Paris (230456) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:29AM (#6243288) Homepage
      To be perfectly frank, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they could get this to work. It'll require years of testing, tweaking, trial-by-error, and careful design, but I can easily see the day arriving where they've successfully addressed enough "what if" scenarios that they have a highly reliable product.

      To take your example: Honda engineers discover that an oncoming car in a right curve that appears out of "nowhere" (from around the side of the mountain" causes the device to activate unnecissarily. Solution? There are lots of possible solutions. Is the vehicle approaching you at greater than your own speed? If so, it's oncoming traffic, and automatic braking is an inappropriate response (though a warning light/buzzer -may- be.) What is the four-second history of the angle of your car's wheels? If it suggests that you're on a right curve, it would make sense that an oncoming vehicle would appear to be directly in front of you; no alert necessary. Heck, you could even disable the entire system whenever your steering angle is greater than some small angle--it's safe to assume that if you're engaged in a turning maneuver, your attention is on your driving (whereas if you're bombing down the Interstate in Nebraska, it's much more likely that your attention will wander.)

      I'm not saying that we shouldn't expect stringent and rigorous development and testing of such systems, but I find it a bit disingenuous to question the ability of such a system to work successfully because one can imagine scenarios where it wouldn't work. There are umpteen-thousand potential scenarios in which it wouldn't "work". That does not mean, however, that Honda cannot produce a system that provides a very real safety enhancement without putting drivers at risk from unnecessary activation.

      Airbags, when they first came out, did their job pretty darn well, but there were still a small number of cases--very short people, overly-sensitive triggers, overly-forceful deployment, etc.--where they were problematic. These kinks got ironed out. Today, airbags are really, really, really reliable, they make cars considerably safer, and I'm glad we have 'em. I can see a system such as the one Honda is developing having a similar history--pretty good launch, a few rare but highly-publicized problems, second and third generation systems being excellent safety systems.

  • Damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gortbusters.org (637314) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:10AM (#6243042) Homepage Journal
    And here I bought a new 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. I hate when ya buy something and then they come out with new features.
  • Being cut up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rf0 (159958) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:10AM (#6243043) Homepage
    What about if you are driving along then you get cut up...how hard will the system engage the breaks? enough to make you skid?

    Rus
  • by NetDanzr (619387) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:11AM (#6243052)
    ...drivers in New York suddenly face a severe shortage of parking space, as they are unable to parallel-park more than one Honda within 300 feet of each other.
  • by notque (636838) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:11AM (#6243056) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, Japanese regulations don't allow for the system to fully stop the vehicle

    Because what I want is to have less and less operation value, and rely more on technology!

    We are slowly devolving into a society that not only has no common sense, but cannot operate anything without help.

    No thank you auto stop. I have breaks. I know how to downshift. I'm fine.

    I feel much safer knowing the control is in my hands, than an arbitrary machine anyway.

    Is it just me?
    • by fred_sanford (678924) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:23AM (#6243222)

      HAL: "Let me put it this way, Mr Amer. The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."
    • by SnowDog_2112 (23900) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:27AM (#6243269) Homepage
      I feel much safer knowing the control is in my hands, than an arbitrary machine anyway.

      People have said the same thing about anti-lock brakes, traction control, power steering, and automatic transmissions over the years. And heck, some people do prefer to have control over everything.

      This is an option; don't buy it if you're not the target market.

      (Also note that the system is much more complicated than described in the MSNBC article; you don't think Honda would actually go to market with something that wouldn't let you get within 100m of another car, do you?)

      But for those who do buy it, it will make driving safer. It provides a visual and audible warning when it thinks a collision is likely. If you don't respond, it provides a tactile warning (tighten seatbelt, tap brakes). That should be enough to jolt you out of your daydream (or cause you to look up from whatever you are doing which took your eyes off the road).

      If it determines a collision is unavoidable, it does what it can to reduce impact on the passengers within -- tightens seatbelts and brakes with force. At this point, if the engineers at Honda have done their jobs, the car is going to crash, it's just trying to make it easier for you to survive the impact.
  • Finally!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by enigma971 (593043) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:11AM (#6243059)
    They can't get this installed in my girlfriend's car soon enough!
  • by cwernli (18353) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:11AM (#6243065) Homepage

    If the driver fails to respond, the car brakes more and tightens the seat belt further to soften the blow of the crash.

    The system should be expanded such that a driver who fails for, say, three times to brake when she should is not allowed to drive anymore. Or not allowed to accelarate to more than 25 mph. That should increase the drivers awareness instantly, shouldn't it ?

  • by PseudoThink (576121) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:12AM (#6243072)

    It then taps the brake and tightens the seatbelt...If the driver fails to respond, the system kicks in and brakes more while also tightening the seat belt. Unfortunately, Japanese regulations don't allow for the system to fully stop the vehicle."
    But fortunately there is a loophole in the regulations, allowing them to gradually strangle the driver with his seatbelt until he stops the vehicle on his own.
  • by Zerbey (15536) * on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:12AM (#6243075) Homepage Journal
    You mean to tell me whilst I'm driving on I-4 every morning every time some idiot kid in a tricked out Honda (stupid large muffler, big fin, silly rims... pet hate :)) cuts me off I'll be rammed in the back by the his idiot friend who happens to be tailgating me because my car decides it needs to brake?
    • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:10PM (#6243780) Homepage
      No. It means that unlike you, Honda was smart enough to put radar in the BACK of the vehicle as well as in the front.

      The system is a lot smarter than you seem to be willing to grant it.

      Why does everyone hear assume that a complex auto-breaking system is going to be built by idiots that do not even consider simple situations?

      While I am sure that this device might cause problems in complex situations, the simples ones should already be accounted for.

      • "While I am sure that this device might cause problems in complex situations, the simples ones should already be accounted for."

        But we mortals can already, most of the time, handle simple situations while driving.

        It's the complex ones that are complex, and that's where this car is going to fuck up and perform an incorrect decision.

    • by Pyrosz (469177) <amurray@s t a g e 1 1.ca> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#6243982) Homepage
      Just do what my neighbor does (hes a cranky 90 year old bastard who hates everyone)... he tosses marbles out the window at any car who is tailgating him (I've seen the bag of marbles)!
  • Goody! (Score:3, Funny)

    by OrangeGoo (678478) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:13AM (#6243082)
    Goody! Now I don't have to be bothered taking my foot off the gas pedal and putting it on that pesky brake pedal, unless of course I need to come to a complete stop! But who does that? Stop signs might as well says "slow down a little and look both ways." If they park a car next to it, this system will handle it for you! Yay!
  • by servicepack158 (678320) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:13AM (#6243088) Homepage
    The AMG benz's come with a cruise control system that when active will slow down if a car in front of you is going slower then you, and speed back up to cruise speed when they get out of your way. It can apply up to 20% of the breaking force of the vehicle too if there is a sudden stop. you can look at it and watch a flash presentation on the website. To the dork programmer who doesn't understand how it works: That's why honda didn't hire you for the project :) You only activate such a system above certain speeds. So basically it's an autopilot system for a car, but people always change lanes without looking so now they need to invent something to lock the steeringwheel :D
  • by selderrr (523988) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:14AM (#6243104) Journal
    one car suddenly brakes and all honda drivers behind it are strangled by their auto-tightening seatbelts.

    4-point seatbelt wearers are castrated rather than strangled.
  • by snack (71224) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:15AM (#6243123) Journal
    90% of the accidents i've seen are from people just SLAMMING on their brakes. They cant stop in time, and careen into the back of another vehicle, or T-bone them.

    The solution is more drivers education. You have to learn that you have more than just 1 dimention of freedom, and can change lanes to avoid a collision. More education, Less 'toys' in the car to distract the driver.

    -Tim
  • Too bad.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by MImeKillEr (445828) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:16AM (#6243128) Homepage Journal
    .. they don't have an early warning system for when you've exceeded the maximum number of ricer mods (R-Type stickers, neon, over-sized wing). I'd find that just as useful.

  • by popeydotcom (114724) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:17AM (#6243135) Homepage
    Is the number of "300 yards! what about rush hour" posts here.

    Think about what you've just said guys! Do you REALLY, honestly think that they would release a car that stamps on the brakes when *anything* is in range. Give it some intelligence.. Sheesh.
  • by zptdooda (28851) <deanpjm@gmail . c om> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:19AM (#6243166) Journal
    Hereâ(TM)s more from Honda:

    CMS [honda.com]

    So itâ(TM)s more than just the 300 ft test, which would be arbitrary. It looks at "distance, speed and and anticipated path".

    Sounds worse than a backseat driver though.
  • by schon (31600) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:19AM (#6243175)
    The title reminds me of a body shop near my work.

    It was called "Certified Collision"

    I always wondered - so you get in an accident, call these guys, they come over and say "Yup, you hit him!"

    Now, maybe it's just me, but I think "Crash Prevention" would be much more desirable than "Crash Detection" :o)
  • by FFFish (7567) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:20AM (#6243179) Homepage
    I mean anything. Traffic accidents are one of the biggest killers in America (#1 killer of kids, I do believe). And yet it is so unnecessary to allow driving to continue being so dangerous.

    Regular driving exams, say every three to five years: great idea.

    Graduated licensing programs: great idea.

    Mandatory driver training: great idea.

    Black boxes reporting accident data: great idea.

    Automatic safety systems: great idea.

    Photo radar: great idea.

    Hell, GPS tracking of vehicles would, if it reduced traffic deaths by a few percent, would be well worth the loss of privacy.

    I'm at the maximum safe driver discounts. I haven't even been close to being in an accident in some fifteen years (arsehole ran a red light!). I maintain an attitude of defensive driving.

    I'm not worried that I'll be the cause of an accident. But I'm scared shitless of your driving, because you are, in all probability, one of the drivers who is a threat to my continued well-being.

    I'm quite willing to jump through some annoying hoops -- the repeated testing, the black box, the privacy invasions -- in order to save my life. I treasure my freedoms and privacy, I detest government interference, etcetera... but I value my life more than all that.

    So bring it on.

    Let's get our streets safe.
    • by slittle (4150) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:47AM (#6243505) Homepage
      Regular driving exams, say every three to five years: great idea.
      PITA, not to mention a greater health risk than unsafe drivers. Have you seen the ferral creatures that inhabit the local RTA (DMV, or your regional equivalent)?

      Graduated licensing programs: great idea.

      Mandatory driver training: great idea.
      Three days over 6 months to get a motorcycle license in Oz (NSW), after you have completed the road rules test, which you may take at your leisure.

      Day 1, you are required to demonstrate you are able to ride a bike before you're given your L's (Learner plates/license). 3-6 months later, you're back for another two days worth of obstacle avoidance, emercengy breaking and general "how not to get dead" theory and practise. Gruesome video footage of people who fuck it up is optional. You are then tested on your emergency skills, plus a standard road ride, before being issued a Provisional license. This allows you to do upto 80km/h, upto 0.02BAC (one standard drink), and three whole points. You get to wallow in your lameness for a year or three - if you fuck up, you're off the road. If you don't, you get an unrestricted license. By this time, you have real experience under your belt, are now 20+ years old(er :) and theoretically, less likely to go nuts - you've been weened into your freedom.
    • While I agree with many of your statements, there is such a thing as going too far.

      Hell, GPS tracking of vehicles would, if it reduced traffic deaths by a few percent, would be well worth the loss of privacy.

      No. Sorry, but the privacy bit is too big. It's still possible to do it, but not with a total loss of privacy please.

      I'm not worried that I'll be the cause of an accident. But I'm scared shitless of your driving, because you are, in all probability, one of the drivers who is a threat to my conti
    • by n6mod (17734) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:59AM (#6243656) Homepage
      Regular driving exams, say every three to five years: great idea.

      Graduated licensing programs: great idea.

      Mandatory driver training: great idea.


      Stop right there. You were on a great roll there. We have hideous safety statistics in this country precisely because we give out driver's licenses in Crackerjack boxes. And we respond by lowering speed limits, which doesn't really work.

      You want safe roads at any cost? Really? OK, simple: National 15 MPH speed limit, enforced with severe jail time. Or maybe death. Didn't think so.

      You make a few great points here. Driver training and licensing in this country is a joke. I don't have his statistics handy, but there is an ER doctor in Southern California who is tracking the DMV records of a group of drivers who participate in performance driving schools (NASA and SCCA street schools, Open Tracks, AutoX schools and the like). He's seeing better than 90% reductions in both accident and moving violation rates. Ninety Percent! From better driver training. Not automagic systems that drive for you, just having a human that can actually control the machine.


      Black boxes reporting accident data: great idea.


      There are very real privacy concerns here. And very real property right concerns. It's not that having good data in a real accident is bad, it's the legal environment surrounding such data in the country that is horrifying. We have an environment where speed limits are set for political (I don't want them going fast near *my* house) and revenue reasons, not actual safety and engineering reasons. Yet exceeding those artificial speed limits is prima facie evidence of fault in any situation.


      Automatic safety systems: great idea.


      Maybe. Have you ever been in a situation where avoiding the accident required accelerating? How do you think the brake grabbing systems described here are going to react?


      Photo radar: great idea.


      If it were actually being used to enhance safety in places where the speed limits are set rationally, yes. But they're not. They're used to enhance revenue in places where the speed limits are set arbitrarily.

      Let's look at a related issue, one that based on your comment is near and dear to your heart: Red light cameras. There have been numerous cases over the past couple of years of municipalities reducing yellow light duration to increase revenue. In Fairfax County, VA, cameras were installed at one intersection because of high incidences of red light runners. The cameras were catching an average of 52 events a day. Increasing the duration of the yellow from 4s to 5.5s reduced that number from 52 to less than 1. Engineering fixed the problem, not enforcement.


      Hell, GPS tracking of vehicles would, if it reduced traffic deaths by a few percent, would be well worth the loss of privacy.


      Do I *have* to quote Franklin?

      I'm not worried that I'll be the cause of an accident. But I'm scared shitless of your driving, because you are, in all probability, one of the drivers who is a threat to my continued well-being.


      I hear you. The average joe out there can't drive. The solution is to *teach them to drive*. It really is that simple.


      Let's get our streets safe.


      Through training and safety engineering, yes. Trying to idiot proof the roads and cars isn't going to work. Reducing the idiocy of the average driver will. (And does!)

  • by dsmoses (653429) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:25AM (#6243238)
    With as many people that tailgate and cut over directly in front of other cars (including just a few feet in front of one they just passed on an empty highway to then just step on the brakes), this should wreek havoc on cruise control systems and also wear through brake pads like sawdust.

    At 60 mph, a one second distance gap is 88 feet. So 300 feet is roughly 3.4 seconds. Does anyone even stay that far behind the car in front of them anymore? I remember driver's ed/mva handbook recommending 3 seconds or so in distance, but my observations are that this is rarely more than 1 - 1.5 seconds.

    Also, isn't it the last thing people need is a distraction in the event of an emergency. Granted it will take their concentration away from a cell phone or makeup application. How many times has a startled passenger's shrieking caused confusion just enough to distract the driver from the real danger?

    • At 60 mph, a one second distance gap is 88 feet. So 300 feet is roughly 3.4 seconds. Does anyone even stay that far behind the car in front of them anymore? I remember driver's ed/mva handbook recommending 3 seconds or so in distance, but my observations are that this is rarely more than 1 - 1.5 seconds.

      Perhaps, but when the system automatically slows you down, on a country highway at night with no other cars, and as you gently roll to a stop you finally see the deer standing frozen in the middle of the
  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:26AM (#6243253) Journal
    It then taps the brake and tightens the seatbelt. A buzzer goes off and a light on the dash is illuminated.

    An in-dash audio/video capture system allows the driver to make any final requests if they are clear headed enough. If not, it'll make a great file for collision and safetey research centers or alt.binaries.tasteless.

    An embedded MP3 begins to play a prayer in the religious demoniation of the driver's choice or, if the driver is an athieist, something by, uh, Isaac Asimov or something.

    The driver's lower portion is wrapped tightly in Saran-Wrap[tm] by robotic arms so that the ambulence workers can be shielded from the soiled underwear.

    A small hole opens in the seat, and a pair of cybernetic lips firmly and lovingly kisses the driver's ass goodbye.

  • by luugi (150586) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:27AM (#6243276)
    They would have a lot of courage to put out something in the market like that. I could see a lot of people blaming the device for accidents. How would they prove the system worked properly?
  • by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:30AM (#6243304) Journal
    300 feet is wrong.

    The distance that the car should be measuring should be based on whatever the current speed of the car is to compensate for the fact that the faster the car moves, the greater the breaking distance, and if the car is barely crawling (as in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic), the stopping distance is practically zero.

    Most driving guides recommend that you follow the car in front of you no closer than 2 seconds and I would think that any automatic braking system that kicks in at around that would probably be very appropriate, personally. But 300ft? Even at highway speeds that's almost 4 seconds of distance between cars!!! For in-city driving, it would be absurd.

  • Jeez (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Z0mb1eman (629653) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:32AM (#6243312) Homepage
    99% of the replies so far may as well be modded -1 Redundant.

    Do you people honestly think the Honda engineers aren't bright enough to think of the objections people here came up with 5 seconds after reading the article summary and pouncing on the "Post" button?

    The article is light on details, but it still makes the point that this is a collision WARNING system. It doesn't seem to be designed to stop the car or brake to avoid collisions; it's a system that fires off a small warning whenever it detects a potentially dangerous situation - say, if you're dozing off in rush hour traffic and you don't notice the car in front of you is stopped, this'll ideally snap you back to attention.

    It doesn't seem that it will brake enough to get you rearended; I'm SURE the Honda engineers can come up with a way to tell the difference between a squirrel, a tree, and an SUV; it's not very difficult to tell which way a vehicle is going, so it's easy to make the system ignore cars going past you in the opposite direction, or cars passing by perpendicularly at an intersection. I don't know the reasons behind the 300 feet range (although I'd imagine the range is dynamic and proportional to your vehicle's speed), but without more information I'll have to assume the Honda people did their research and have some rationale.

    There, was that so hard? I'm a couch Honda engineer too now!
  • by WinDoze (52234) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:35AM (#6243346)
    DING, your door is ajar.

    DING, your headlights are on.

    DING, you just crashed into a semi.
  • The Problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Schezar (249629) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:37AM (#6243374) Homepage Journal
    The problem here is that the majority of people are poor drivers. I blame our driver's education system. Notice, these classes teach very little about vehicle handling or basic mechanical functionality: they teach about the laws and rules of the road.

    Now, it's good that Timmy knows the difference between a white line and a yellow line, but that won't help him when he doesn't understand that if he decellerates on a slick curve, the weight of the vehicle will transfer to the front wheels, possibly causing the rear ones to lose traction and induce an oversteer (Timmy spins out and causes an accident).

    Or how about proximity? Notice how, when there's a small piece of debris in the road, most drivers give it a good 4-6 feet of berth just because they don't actually have a sense of the boundries of their car.

    Driver's education should be rigorous and difficult: not designed so that everyone passes. (How many people -actually- fail Driver's Ed? There was one in my entire high school class of several hundred, and she was, shall we say, half a half-wit ((a quarter-wit?)) ).

    [end_rant]
  • by WinDoze (52234) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:37AM (#6243377)
    Honda: ALL YOUR BRAKES ARE BELONG TO US!

    I'm really very sorry. That was very Tourette's-like.
  • Volvo... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by httpamphibio.us (579491) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:47AM (#6243503)
    Volvo unveiled this in their safety vehicle about a year ago. It hasn't made it into a non-concept car yet, but this technology seems nearly identical.
  • by Moderation abuser (184013) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:48AM (#6243518)
    I wonder what the radar profile of a pedestrian is.

  • No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d (454486) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:49AM (#6243519) Journal
    I will leave the driving to me. This sounds even more absurd than the Linked Braking System that Honda uses on some of its motorcycles. That took 3 or so revisions to make it reliable, and un-noticable.

    Imagine the number of brake checks in your commute to work it it goes off anytime a car is slowing down within 100m of your front bumper. Where will the fuse for this be located again? ;-)
  • by Polyphemis (450226) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:52AM (#6243559)
    As much as I love technology, I still hold my own discretion in higher regard. I can see how something like this COULD be useful in some situations, but typically there's so much going on around me on the road at any given time that I'd rather rely on my own judgment than place faith in a machine.

    Also, if this type of thing eventually becomes common in cars, I could see how something like this could motivate some people to pay LESS attention to the road and be more likely to cause accidents than that would have without it. I wouldn't mind if the device was designed in such a way so that it merely redirected attention to another aspect of driving while providing a safety buffer, but something that could encourage people to pay even less attention to their own driving concerns me.
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:01PM (#6243673)
    MSNBC is reporting that Honda Motor Co. unveiled an early crash-detection system for one of their vehicles.

    Will it detect impending crashes like Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco?

    We SO need one of these for the stock market.

  • by calethix (537786) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#6243693) Homepage
    " If the driver fails to respond, the system kicks in and brakes more while also tightening the seat belt. "

    What if I'm *trying* to hit someone because they cut me off. Is there a button to disable it?

    For those humour impaired people, I'm joking.
  • by AlgUSF (238240) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:02PM (#6243694) Homepage
    Now I don't have to even look at the road when I got my car on cruise at 85.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:29PM (#6243981)
    Dr. Tony Ferraro worked on this project along with my current advisor, they actually used a radar device placed in a round container stuck to the front of a car...crap was bigger back then... from the videos I saw it worked quite well. It actually compared the present situation with an enormous database full of other situations. It did set off the alarm when they quickly approached a guard rail on a sharp turn though. Among other things, it knew current speed and acceleration relative to objects in front of the car.
  • by bbc22405 (576022) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:33PM (#6244025)
    Who will be the first to spoof the radar, so that the Honda next to you will kindly slow down and let you cut? :-)
  • Drivers Ed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Malicious (567158) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:35PM (#6244044)
    Back in my Driver training years ago, I remember my instructor having his own break pedal, in the case of emergeny.
    Every time he touched the thing, i wanted to hit him. If he thought for even a second that I was going to fast, he'd apply the break. Then when I would reach for it, it wouldn't be there (it would be slightly depressed) and I'd panic.
    [sarcasm]
    This is just what I want in my car 24/7
    [/sarcasm]
  • Great, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:52PM (#6244208) Journal
    ...having done rescue on a few thousand accidents, and been in a few myself... I don't want some naieve black-box 2nd-guessing my decision to smash into something. As odd as it sounds, consider:
    - A nice frozen bridge. You've got a stopped/crashed car or obstruction in front of you, and a 90 ton Semi coming in behind you. Sorry, but I'm gonna get through that obstruction and out of his way, thanks.
    - Hitting snow/ice banks at a low speed is a stupid idea that usually gets you stuck.
    - If some on-coming idiot swerves into my lane, the last thing I want to do is stop and spend MORE time in his path. Thanks, I might prefer to add a little more energy and get out of his way as quickly as possible.

    This idea ranks right up there with cars that refuse to start unless the clutch is pushed in. It sounds like a really great idea... until you stall in a high speed intersection, and then you're dead along with whoever hits you. Rather a shame, considering that you could otherwise just stuff it into gear and crank your car out of the way... but hey, cars never stall, fuel filters never ice up, and timing belts never break.

    - SBB
  • by freality (324306) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:56PM (#6244248) Homepage Journal
    I'll probably piss-off the red-bloded Americans here, but man, I can't wait to not drive my car. I want to have fully automated driving. I want to finish work on a Friday afternoon, go home, grab my stuff, go to my car and say "Miami Beach, Please!". I want to watch movies for a couple of hours or finish reading Dune, and when I wake up, I'm parked right at my favorite beach. Same thing for the reverse trip Sunday night and Monday mornings wouldn't be half as bad. Paint fuel-cells into that picture and it wouldn't even tweak the greens.

    CMU's robotics program has been working on automated driving systems [cmu.edu] for years. When I was there I heard one of the professors had outfitted his normal home car with about $1500 of equipment and "drove" to school and back every day mostly hands-off. All based on neural-nets [sf.net] and some snazzy control systems.

    And that was like 6 years ago. I'm sure there's wisdom in not rushing into something like this, but I also get the feeling there will be some hard lobbying against it. Like, what happens to truckers, cabbies, UPS/Fed-Ex drivers, etc. etc.? Will the (perhaps undeserved) reputation of dangerous speed-freak truckers come home to roost?

    I wonder how Detroit would feel. At first, it's a shinny new feature == more margin. But beyond that, I can't help but see cars become even more commodity. All you really end up caring about is your comfort/ammenities.. there won't be as much attention to "performance".. ahhh.. Detroit will ~love~ it, BMW won't.

    You could even share these kind of cars, like the Zip cars [zipcar.com], but instead of you going to the cars, they come to you. Or perhaps just the under-carriage comes to you and connects to your personal travel cabin. Then, you pull out of the driveway and merge into a long train of like-designed cabins-on-wheels, all virtually-linked together via 802.11z. The road/car system routes you shortest-dijkstra-path [tokushima-u.ac.jp] to your destination and then your car parks itself once it's dropped you off. There's traffic density that would make clog up modern highways for years, but its all flow-controlled, so you go 120MpH with only inches between cars, so your trip takes half the time.

    The moving sidewalk (armchair) of the future? :)
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @01:11PM (#6244408)
    This has got to be one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard about in automotive engineering. First, this thing has a range of 300 feet. This range is so long as to be useless for rush hour traffic. In many metro areas you can't get 300 feet in front of you even if your driving an ambulance with light and sirens. Drivers are going to cut in front of you, and there is nothing you can do about it. The net result of this is two fold. First it desensitises the driver behind you to your brake lights. After someone has their brake lights on for 25 minutes straight, drivers behind them aren't going to know when he puts them on for real. They will become desensitised to his brake lights - this is a bad thing. The second thing this will do is cause a safety problem with the Honda itself. Since the car is riding it's own brakes, they are going to be much warmer after constant usage for 10 to minutes, and thus more prone to failure.


    This could also encourage laziness in the part of the driver as he is conditioned not to brake until the car starts braking for him. Remember Pavlov's dog? Same premise works on humans as well. The worst thing about this though is that these vehicles will be driven on roads that see ice, freezing rain and snow conditions. Touching the brakes unexpectedly in these conditions can easily cause a vehicle to go out of control. This is nothing like driving on dry roads at all, and requires much more skill on the part of the driver. Since I live in Minnesota, a state renowned for it's winters and bad weather, this is not an idle concern. Vehicles with brake systems that engage without the driver pressing the brake pedal first should be banned from public roads for safety's sake. I am not referring to brake assist feature in some cars that helps push down the brake pedal when panic braking on behalf of the driver is detected. I say this all as someone who has been in a very severe accident where such a system in the vehicle behind me just might have prevented the accident (rear ended at freeway speed by full size truck).

  • by Mannerism (188292) <keith-slashdotNO@SPAMspotsoftware.com> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @01:25PM (#6244632)
    "Yeah, dude, and it's got one of those new collision detection systems...check it out."
  • possible scenario (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @01:35PM (#6244782) Journal
    you are cruising on the free-way at speed, the car in fron off you slams on its brakes. You realize that you are folloing too close( just like everyone else), and quickly check the lanes to the left and right, taping the accelerator you slide to the right and avoid the hazard, giving the driver behind you ample time to break and avoid the same obstacle....NOW the same scenario, only as you scramble for an exit to the left or right, your car begins to brake by itself making a lane change MUCH harder than it would be if you were at traffic speed or slightly faster. Granted this is probably a fairly rare happening but there are a LOT of options and complications to deal with, and I for one would not feel comfortable driving in a vehicle which did not respopnd EXACTLY as I asked it to.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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