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Hybrid Cars No Better than 'Intelligent' Cars 883

Posted by Zonk
from the i-can't-do-that-dave dept.
eldavojohn writes "There's no doubt been a lot of analysis done recently on energy consumption, especially on the road. Now, a study released today reveals that cars with traffic flow sensors built into them can perform just as efficiently as hybrids. The concept of an 'intelligent' car that communicates with the highway or other cars is an old idea, but the idea of them using sensors to anticipate braking could vastly reduce fossil fuel consumption. From the article, 'Under the US and European cycles, hybrid-matching fuel economy was reached with a look-ahead predictability of less than 60 seconds. If the predictability was boosted to 180 seconds, the newly-intelligent car was 33 percent more fuel-efficient than when it was unconverted.' Now, the real question will be whether or not you can convince consumers that the three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic is worth the 33 percent less gas and replacing your brake pads/cylinders less often."
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Hybrid Cars No Better than 'Intelligent' Cars

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  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@@@devinmoore...com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @12:59PM (#19053563) Homepage Journal
    I thought just "not excessively racing the engine" saves gas, i.e. using cruise control, coasting, etc. Can't we just teach people to do this now? If you have to push on the gas to pass someone, does the chip say "nope, too much gas"?
    • by msimm (580077) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:05PM (#19053639) Homepage
      I was woI wonder how much more "intelligently" people drive when they have a display giving gas usage feedback like they do in hybrids (and some other newer cars?). I drive a Yaris, which does pretty differently depending on how I'm driving. Concrete feedback on the dash and I'd probably pay more attention.
      • by Brickwall (985910) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:17PM (#19053945)
        That's not a new technology; I had a Ford T-Bird back in the 80's (when it was the big boat) that flashed a red "Economy" light on the dash when you floored it. And you are correct - unless I was trying to pass a truck on a two-lane highway, when the light flashed, I would usually lift my foot off the gas.
        • by sunking2 (521698) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:32PM (#19054223)
          That's the thing, it's not new, it's not expensive, it certainly would help, so why isn't a bill passed requiring all new cars to display mpg statistics? My father's early 90s chrysler had this. You could get current usage, trip usage, and overall life of the car usage. All displayed on a nice little digital readout next to the odometer. I think that at least for some percentage of the population it would ease their driving habits. It almost becomes a game to try to milk that last mpg out. I think this was available for my Jeep, but it came with the special upgrade package that includes the special control panel with the nice sun glass holders in it. Of course it was like $400 to I opted out of it. Just like a catalytic converter, a fuel usage display should be mandated. It's cheap and has potential. Of course the car manufactures don't want it because then people would see how bogus their epa ratings really are.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mobby_6kl (668092)
            Because such a bill would be just another piece of ridiculous regulation? Here's what the driver has to do:
            • Keep the engine RPM low

            In any case, I'd be surprised to see any modern car above the absolute lowest class without some kind of device that would keep track of fuel consumption. Our '85 Ford/Merkur Scorpio [wikipedia.org] had it, and my dad's more recent Nissan Primera has an even more advanced version accessible through its central console thingie [irishcar.com].

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sunking2 (521698)

              And that spedometer, what waste. Just drive so the trees don't go buy too fast. The tacometer? when the engine whines, shift! Isn't this slashdot where we deserve access to all information? Including our current mpg rate?

              In any case, most cars don't. I've yet to buy a car that does have it standard and while they aren't BMWs they aren't bottom line. I don't believe the Honda Accord has it standard, at least 2-3 years ago it didnt.

              And guess what, for every M3 and A4 that is bought 100 average joe's do

            • by davmoo (63521) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:53PM (#19055799)
              Sorry, but there is more to it than "keep the engine RPM low". There is a "too low" point also.

              I drive a Chrysler Sebring, and as one of the OPs talked about on his relative's car, it has a digital display of "at that second" MPG as well as an averaged MPG (and a bunch of other things). And between that and watching my gasoline receipts, I know for a fact that my car gets its best mileage at approximately 2000 RPM. It sucks gas like a big dog above 3000 RPM...but it also starts getting bad as it goes below 1500 RPM, and gets worse the further down it goes.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by zacronos (937891)
              I'd be surprised to see any modern car above the absolute lowest class without some kind of device that would keep track of fuel consumption.

              That was GP's point -- you don't get that in modern cars unless you buy some outrageous upgrade. I'm not vouching for the truth of that statement, I'm just pointing out that GP is saying that most modern cars don't have a MPG meter.

              Just because older cars don't have the MPG meter doesn't mean it has spread to almost all modern cars. Imagine this scenario: car m
          • by Skye16 (685048) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:44PM (#19055629)
            Probably because, in some vehicles, it is just downright depressing.

            Take my '01 Audi A4 Quattro v6. On average, I get approximately 18 mpg. On the highway, on a straight trip, using cruise control and driving at a relatively sedate 70mph, I get a spectacular 24.3 mpg. Honestly, it's a kick right in the mean bean machine.

            It's even worse when you don't turn average on, and you have to go up a steep hill at a low speed. No one wants to see "5.6mpg" flash up on your screen, even if it is only for a few seconds.

            Okay, with all that said, I do drive a lot more efficiently than I did when I first got the car, and was averaging about 14mpg on my way to work (which, as I somewhat alluded to earlier, I get 18). But seriously, 18 is as good as it gets? Seriously, in this case, "fuck" is the only word that applies. Or maybe "god fucking dammit", but it's still going with the same general theme.
      • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr@NOsPAm.bhtooefr.org> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:18PM (#19053979) Homepage Journal
        Try a ScanGauge [scangauge.com]. I don't have one, because my car's too old, but a Yaris (actually, most 1996 and newer cars) will almost certainly work with it.
      • by niiler (716140) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:19PM (#19053997) Journal

        From what this article [motherjones.com] says, they do. Of course, the driver who is the main focus of the article may have suicidal tendencies in how he drafts 18 wheelers and how he deals with stop signs in the name of saving gas. Still, it's an intriguing read.

        Personally, I was just wondering why it had to be an either-or? Why can't the ultra-economy conscious have the intelligent sensors built into a hybrid car? One would imagine that this would be far better than either.

      • by Jorgandar (450573) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:30PM (#19054193)
        I have a prius, only had it for 2 months. I used to drive a nissan sentra which was fairly zippy. I find that i'm less aggressive now that i have an MPG display. I start to cringe and ease off the acceleration when it drops below 30. it has a funny psycological effect. It also means i'm a less aggressive driver. I dont tailgate anymore, because extra lead time = more energy regenerated while breaking.

        I wonder if we will see a pattern of people who have MPG displays getting into fewer accidents because they drive less aggressively? I want an insurance discount.
        • by doktor-hladnjak (650513) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:00PM (#19054779)
          I wonder if we'll see a pattern of them getting into *more* accidents because they're constantly watching the gauge instead of the road. I have one of these on my car, but fortunately the display toggles various fuel consumption stats along with the time. Usually, I just leave it on the clock because I find MPG distracting.
          • by autophile (640621) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:53PM (#19056939)

            I wonder if we'll see a pattern of them getting into *more* accidents because they're constantly watching the gauge instead of the road.

            Well, no. The key is to watch the MPG display about as often as you watch the speedometer. Eventually, within a few weeks, you will learn what behaviors drive your MPG up or down, and then you will not have to watch the MPG display very often. At least, that is my own personal experience.

            --Rob

    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:05PM (#19053657) Homepage
      Can't we just teach people to turn off the water while they shave or brush their teeth to conserve water? Can't we just teach people to set their thermostats a couple of degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter to save electricity and gas? Can't we just teach people to take colder showers? Or turn off the lights when they leave a room?

      Yes, teaching people better habits is a nice thing to do, but getting them to actually drop their old bad habits is an entirely different story. Our oil problems would be greatly solved if everyone stopped driving their cars and started riding bicycles for any trip less than, say, 5 miles long, but that isn't likely to happen. We must solve these problems through technology because making other people change their lifestyle is just not practical. Most people will resist, and even those who don't are likely to go back to their old ways because people are inherently lazy and will take the path of least resistance whenever possible.
      • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuit&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:16PM (#19053933)

        Can't we just teach people to turn off the water while they shave or brush their teeth to conserve water? Can't we just teach people to set their thermostats a couple of degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter to save electricity and gas? ...
        Okay, I'm with you...

        ... Can't we just teach people to take colder showers?
        NEVER!!!!
      • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:20PM (#19054013) Journal
        Hey I turn off the water when shaving/brushing teeth but cold showers are where I draw the line. Ofcourse it seems like there are some people who are overly concerned about water conservation, you can smell them a mile away.
      • by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:21PM (#19054035) Homepage
        "Our oil problems would be greatly solved if everyone stopped driving their cars and started riding bicycles for any trip less than, say, 5 miles long, but that isn't likely to happen."

        I think that would solve a whole lot more than just the oil problems..
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by drsquare (530038)
          Yes, overpopulation problems for a start as the death rate soars.
      • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#19054067) Homepage Journal

        Most people will resist, and even those who don't are likely to go back to their old ways because people are inherently lazy and will take the path of least resistance whenever possible.

        Then we simply need to make the path of least resistance also the most efficient. Any system designer will tell you that you need to make the best choice the default one, because people will overwhelmingly choose the default.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chosen Reject (842143)
          You are right in more ways than you know. In the case of driving, you get better gas mileage in maintaining a speed than you do in stop and go traffic (hence hwy mileage is better than city). City planners need to get out and look at their streets and think about what they can do to increase the amount of time someone is driving*, and decrease the amount of time they are waiting at lights or braking unnecessarily.

          Where I live there is a stretch of road that the stupid city planners decided should be th
          • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:53PM (#19055817) Homepage Journal

            Roundabouts are far more efficient at traffic control than stop lights. Rather than stopping traffic entirely for one or two cars, traffic keeps moving. When you have a smaller road intersecting with a larger, a roundabout naturally causes the heavier traffic to move more easily through while not preventing people on the less travelled roads from moving at all. It also reduces traffic speeds by presenting approaching cars with a green wall and a sharp turn, forcing them to slow down at the intersection like they're supposed to. They also make it safer for pedestrians by giving them an island of safety in the busy intersection as well as forcing them to look in only one direction to make sure traffic is clear. Finally, you don't have cars crossing each other's paths of travel, so "left hook" accidents are eliminated.

            My biggest suggestion, other than more control over zoning to eliminate massive subdivisions that create traffic problems, would be to replace traffic light intersections with roundabouts wherever possible.

      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:34PM (#19054265)

        We must solve these problems through technology because making other people change their lifestyle is just not practical.
        Sorry, this is bollocks. The solution is simple. Make energy expensive [whynot.net].

        Human beings consume resources up to the limit of what is available unless they have to pay for it. Well we consume huge amounts of energy because it's cheaper than it has been ever before in history. If energy was expensive people would be very careful about how they used it, including buying more energy efficient devices.

         
        • by bnenning (58349) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:35PM (#19055431)
          Absolutely. Specifically, tax the negative externalities of energy use, such as pollution and traffic congestion. A fundamental law of economics is that when you tax something, you get less of it. Currently most of our taxes are on good things like labor, investment, and profit. Shifting those taxes to bad things should be a no-brainer.
      • by ArsonSmith (13997)
        What you're talking about isn't curbing bad habits, but downgrading lifestyle. If I can make a round trip to the grocery store in my car in 10 minutes or save by using my bike in 30 minutes which would I rather do? Typically it will be pay the bit extra on gas and drive faster.

        Water, thermostats, showers, lights. They are all part of an upgraded lifestyle brought on by having plenty of each item. If/When these things become less available they will become more expensive and will be pushed up to people w
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:13PM (#19053827)
      From what I understand, "racing the engine" may not be worse than puttering along. Hypermilers use a "pulse and glide" system, and it said that accelerating at an RPM where your engine gives peak torque is more fuel efficient than going the absolute slowest RPM you can. Accelerating then coasting. Then accelerate again.

      I'm not a hypermiler (they are willing to go too slow, sacrificing speed for mpg, and putting themselves at risk) but I drive like this and use other techniques to increase mileage and it is more fuel efficient. I also try to anticipate stops, lights and drive accordingly. If I see a light that just turned red 200 meters out, I try to coast there, maybe brake early, so that either I let my existing kinetic energy run out or so that I still have some speed when it turns green.

      The people behind me don't like this, which I don't understand, because they want to race to the red light, brake the last 20-50 feet, and then start up from 0mph again. They are only wasting their gas and wearing out their brakes fasters, while not getting their any earlier.
      • by yog (19073) *
        Precisely; in aggressive driving cities like Boston and New York, coasting to a stop is just inviting a few horn honks, middle fingers, and possibly a rear ender if not a road rage incident. Plus, those behind you will just speed up and cut around you if they can, filling up all the space in front. Yet, as you point out, such sensible moves as coasting to the red would save everyone a lot of money.

        As another poster points out, the common sense move is to let energy prices float up, perhaps through a tax t
        • by Mattintosh (758112) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:19PM (#19055139)
          Traffic cops only issue speeding tickets. They don't bother making the roads safer, since there's no money in that. Of course, parking on the side of the interstate looking for someone "speeding" (going over the legal limit, but probably not going faster than the rest of the traffic) causes people to slow down (= wasted gas) in front of faster traffic (= accident) just to avoid some dumbass hick cop that thinks he can use his gun just because he has it.

          Fuck that. I'd rather see those asshat cops/HP-men run over by rampaging drivers as long as they ignore real road-safety problems and instead focus on revenue-generation (read: speeding tickets instead of real moving violations). Yes, I just said I'd prefer dead cops over corrupt government. Am I a criminal or a patriot?
      • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:07PM (#19054897)
        I do the same thing, but you have to pay attention to the situation behind you. Coasting to a red light means you're blocking the guy behind you, who may either be making a right on red but has to wait for you to get out of his way, or needs to get to the left turn lane to get the protected left before it changes. If there's someone following me and there's no one ahead turning, I just go ahead and waste the gas, for civilization's sake.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erice (13380)
          If someone needs to get to the left turn pocket or intends to make a right turn on red, then their turn signal should be on. If it isn't, then any delay caused by me coasting to the light is their own fault.
    • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) * on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:43PM (#19054455)

      Believe me, I've tried.

      three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic

      I often find myself in a half-mile back up of cars at a stop sign. I'm in a rural area that's quickly being developed and adequate traffic control devices (IOW, stop lights) haven't been installed everywhere. It's obvious as all hell that a perfectly reasonable way to get to the intersection is to just idle along. A gap will open in front of me then I'll idle through it. Before I get to the car in front of me, it will have again opened a gap and then stopped while I just idle smoothly along.

      Sounds reasonable, right? Well, apparently not. I've had drivers behind me go into apoplectic fits, screaming and flipping me off, because I allowed a half-dozen car lengths to open ahead of me. I've had drivers pass me on the shoulder where there is no shoulder (I literally mean a two lane road with big, scary ditches on the sides) because they couldn't stand to see a gap in front of me. I've had drivers pull out of line, swerve in front of me, then watch their mirror as I idled up from behind and slam on the brakes as I approached, attempting to cause an accident that would be my fault. I hate to ascribe motives to people I don't know, but that seems to me to be just an attempt to "get" me for not driving like everybody else.

      Hell, I've actually been stopped in a long line at a red light and had this happen. I was taught that you should stop far enough behind the car in front to see their rear tires on the ground. If they stall out, this gives you enough room to go around. Well, given the right combination of hood and bumper heights, this can also leave enough room in front to fit a small car. On three separate occasions over the past couple of years, I've had the car behind me whip out and pull in front of me (never *quite* fitting into the space) because I left too much room in front of me while we were ALL stopped at a light.

      Nope, you can't drive steady in the U.S. It's apparently not allowed. You must floor the gas, roar up twenty feet, and slam on the brakes to stop every time someone in line in front of you clears the stop sign.

      People are idiots. No wonder researchers tend to look for technological solutions to human problems.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by asuffield (111848)

        I've had drivers pass me on the shoulder where there is no shoulder (I literally mean a two lane road with big, scary ditches on the sides) because they couldn't stand to see a gap in front of me. I've had drivers pull out of line, swerve in front of me, then watch their mirror as I idled up from behind and slam on the brakes as I approached, attempting to cause an accident that would be my fault.

        Wow, US drivers must be insane. Here in the UK, if anybody tried things like that that and the police spotted th

  • by ZiakII (829432) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @12:59PM (#19053569)
    But what aboout Hybrid Itelligent Cars being beter then Intelligent cars?
    • by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:09PM (#19053735) Homepage Journal
      The nature of hybrids means they are already recouping a lot of the wasted energy from slowing a car. That would make me expect that hybrids would receive less of an energy conservation boost from intelligent controls, but that they would be able to break later and still retain the same performance that conventional engines with intelligence have. So the net energy consumed would be (roughly) the same over all, but Hybrids could drive faster.

      -Rick
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by penguinstorm (575341)
      I want a hybrid intelligent FLYING car.

      Where's my flying car? I was promised a flying car.

      Until then, I pedal my way home.
  • by jimstapleton (999106) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:00PM (#19053573) Journal
    the two techs could easily be put together in the same car, and make something much more efficient.
    • Yeah! Or ... people could live densely enough (like in NYC, London, Berlin, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.) that they don't need to drive a car and public transportation doesn't by necessity suck.
  • by eviloverlordx (99809) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:00PM (#19053577)
    What we really need are intelligent drivers. You know, the ones that don't drive 20 over the speed limit, don't tailgate, keep their cars in tune and the tires properly filled.
    • I drive a lot for business, about 1500 miles / month in L.A and other parts of southern California. I have a conventional IC car, and driving carefully can save a significant amount of money, so I've tried to drive like TFA says...but this whole scheme does not take into account the guy behind you - the one who wants to rush up to that red light. They will honk, swerve in and out of traffic to get around you, and generally cause more trouble for you and surrounding drivers than it is worth.
      • by iangoldby (552781) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:19PM (#19053989) Homepage

        They will honk, swerve in and out of traffic to get around you
        Then let them. I'd much rather have a dangerous driver in front of me so that I am in control of the gap than have them behind me where there is very little I can do. When I wave someone past to overtake me, it's usually a big vote of 'no confidence' in their driving.
        • by tentimestwenty (693290) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @05:06PM (#19058403)
          If someone's been tailgaiting me in normal traffic when there is no hope of going faster or making extra lights, I'll usually pull over and let them pass too. When they angrily speed by to the next red light, I'll coast up behind them and if they hesitate even a fraction of second when the light turns, lay on the horn to show my impatience at waiting for them!
    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:08PM (#19053709) Homepage
      No, what we really need are magical leprechauns who can convert all of our cars to run on rainbows and lollipops.

      I think my idea is a lot more likely to happen than yours.
    • by pla (258480)
      You know, the ones that don't drive 20 over the speed limit

      Sorry, but I don't like everyone on the road passing me. That creates a far more dangerous condition than simply exceeding the artificially-low, revenue-maximizing "posted" limits.

      If you can't keep up with traffic, get off the road.
  • Disavowing (Score:2, Funny)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
    Cue someone claiming that "real" environmentalists do/don't support hybrids/intelligent cars in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
  • Why not both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:02PM (#19053595) Homepage
    From the tone of the post, it seems like they're making an argument against hybrid cars by showing that they're no more efficient than regular cars with this new tech... but why not just stop comparing the two and combine them? Shouldn't the title read "Hybrid Car Efficiency Improves Even More with new Technology?"
    • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:08PM (#19053719)

      From the tone of the post, it seems like they're making an argument against hybrid cars by showing that they're no more efficient than regular cars with this new tech... but why not just stop comparing the two and combine them? Shouldn't the title read "Hybrid Car Efficiency Improves Even More with new Technology?"

      Yup, they lose the debate through the old "Not mutually exclusive" argument. Not only that, but those "intelligent" driving techniques aren't always practicable, like in bumper to bumper traffic. That sort of thing is where Hybrids really shine - where speeds are averaging less than 20 mph and people spend time sitting. If I'm in a hybrid, my engine cuts off and I run off the battery for the start-n-stop traffic, and it charges back later. A regular car will typically get well under 10 mph in such situations; a hybrid will get around 60.

      In other words, hybrids totally kick ass in the city - small, nimble, typically a short turning radius, and great mileage in city driving.

  • Weeell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by u-bend (1095729) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:02PM (#19053601) Homepage Journal
    In my opinion, the chief function of hybrids has always been as a stepping stone. They're not great in and of themselves, and anything that merely reduces gasoline consumption rather than replacing it can be seen as something that prolongs oil dependence and all the problems associated with it. However, adoption of hybrids shows the big guys that the public is willing to invest in new and more efficient kinds of vehicles, and will hopefully fuel research into alternate energy sources.
  • Since this system has no overall control agent, the cars are like a distributed computing network. Since most traffic is caused by faulty driving I welcome this kind of thing without hesitation.

    • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:07PM (#19053699) Homepage Journal
      Since this system has no overall control agent, the cars are like a distributed computing network. Since most traffic is caused by faulty driving I welcome this kind of thing without hesitation.

      How do you stop someone from fixing their car to constantly broadcast "DANGER: MOOSE AHEAD" or "EMERGENCY VEHICLE APPROACHING" so they can use it to get through traffic faster?

      I think the abuse potential of these technologies need to be carefully studied. If there's a way that any system can be used to create even the most minuscule advantage in traffic, or simply be used to cause mayhem, people will do it in spades.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        How do you stop someone from fixing their car to constantly broadcast "DANGER: MOOSE AHEAD" or "EMERGENCY VEHICLE APPROACHING" so they can use it to get through traffic faster?

        Ummmm... make it illegal to transmit false traffic data? Just like it's illegal in many jurisdictions to use those devices that signal to traffic lights that your car is an emergency vehicle so that the lights give you priority (unless your car is actually an emergency vehicle).

        Seems kinda obvious.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by profplump (309017)
        The same way you stop people from using lights and sirens so they can get through traffic faster -- you make it a crime and enforce that rule against people that are obviously breaking it. If they are influencing traffic in any significant way you could see that effect and it wouldn't be terribly difficult to record the broadcasts in the area and correlate them with the vehicle weaving through traffic.
  • Yeah, so how long will it take to roll out these new, intelligent roads? And how much will it cost to maintain them?
  • You don't need sophisticated sensors for this; in most situations, your vision alone is enough to give you 60 seconds of forewarning, or close to it, if you choose to drive "intelligently."

    However, most people don't. They'll accelerate when they know there's a red light or stopped traffic in front of them, even though it just means they need to brake harder (and probably come to a complete stop, which they might have avoided by slowing down sooner); people follow too closely on highways and have to use their brakes, which really shouldn't be used for anything except emergencies (and the flashing of which screws up traffic behind them, because people think there's a problem); people mash down on the gas when they're just going to have to stop again in another 100 feet ... the capability for "intelligence" is there, but people choose not to do it.

    Perhaps when gas costs more, people will choose to drive more efficiently.
  • I'm sure that the country would save quite a bit of gas if more drivers did what their drivers ed teacher said and "got the big picture". I'm amused, and saddened, by the drivers that shoot from red-light to red-light. So often, its plainly obvious from the color of the light and the queue of halted traffic, that there's no way that the light will turn green and traffic will move before these speed demon get to the intersection.

    Their average velocity is no higher than any other driver, but they sure do bu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022)
      Yeah, but every once in a while we get through and leave you slugs behind, making it oh so worth it!
  • Want economy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:05PM (#19053643) Homepage Journal

    • Drive the speed limit
    • Avoid fast accelerations from a stop
    • No lift kits, remove racks when not in use, reduce drag

  • food for thought... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gm a i l .com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:05PM (#19053653) Homepage
    I drive a Ford Focus 2007 sedan and in the first couple weeks I had the car I drove fairly sporty [e.g. speed limit all the time no coasting] and got about 13L/100Km in the city. I've spent the last week and a bit driving more carefully, that is, coasting to stops, using cruise control whenever possible, not accelerating as quickly to the next redlight. When I filled up yesterday I purchased 15L of fuel for 154Km of distance. or about 10L/100Km.

    In yankee, I'm getting 23.6MPG now instead of 18.2MPG (both in city) for a boost of 29.7% more MPG. I still do the speed limit, I'm just not as heavy on the gas. And when I hit the speed limit I use cruise control where possible. I also don't keep constant speed when there is a red up ahead. Usually I'm doing 20-30 kph under the limit by time I have to brake. If this could be helped via a computer I'm all for it.

    Obviously my "study" isn't really comprehensive. But given that i do the same 14Km route every day there aren't a lot of variables in the mix.

    Tom
  • A year ago I decided to limit my speed to 60, and to start trying to anticipate traffic up ahead earlier and being more gingerly on the brakes. The theory was that fuel spent accellerating is wasted if you wind up wasting it on braking.

    The same car (94 Saturn) started getting about 10% better gas mileage with the same commuting pattern. This was pretty consistent in both the summer and winter months.

    Just a data point .. even my 'wetware' brain that is imprecise and subject to urges and impulses was able
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:07PM (#19053689)
    The article says they're not better, but don't claim they're worse either. Why does it matter to you, as a car owner, what makes your car more efficient. The bottomline is what counts, and if intelligent and hyrbids are both efficient, then great.

    Also don't forget there are more reasons for hybrids to exist. We're not going to run on oil forever, and the effect it has on preparing the market for a chance shouldn't be downplayed. Plus, we have R & D and manifacturing/safety practices in the development of those cars won't go to waste, when "the time comes".

    If anything, the real question isn't "why drive a hybrid when you can drive an intelligent car", but "where the heck are the intelligent hybrids?"...
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:08PM (#19053725)
    First, the technologies aren't incompatible, competing technologies.

    Second, the negative spin on hybrids is bizarre: that they—a widely available commercial technology—are "no better" than the tests suggest a proof-of-concept, not-yet-commercially-available technology might be if put into practical use is, well, a weird way of looking at things.

    I mean, usually, that a presently available technology does just as well, with less specialized infrastructure, than a proof-of-concept isn't, even if they are directly competing, bad news for the existing technology, its bad news for the experimental alternative. "New, unproven technology offers no more than existing, popular technology" would be the usual way of looking at that.

    Of course, they aren't competing technologies, there is no reason a hybrid couldn't benefit from being "intelligent" or vice-versa. Now, you might not get the full efficiency gains of each, since there is some overlap in their benefits vs. dumb non-hybrids, but you would expect more efficiency than either alone.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:10PM (#19053771)
    Coordinate the damn traffic lights. Yes, maybe I do have a knack for triggering a red light when I drive up to it. But what I don't understand is why on major expressways (essentially freeways through urban areas with traffic lights), red lights are triggered when a single car comes to a stop at a small cross road. The net effect is that in order to get a single car across the road in less than 20 seconds, 10 cars have to come to a stop for 20 seconds.

    Seriously, is it that hard to tie the road sensors to timing chips? It doesn't even have to be done on all roads - but anything labeled an expressway, as well as a major roads with known traffic patterns should all have coordinated lights at all times. Expressway cuts through residential areas for 3 miles? Have a green wave run one way in the morning and the other way in the evening. Major road intersects with expressway? All lights on that major road are timed according to the same mechanism, except the one that controls the intersection with the expressway. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. Any improvement over the current idiocy of stopping 10 cars to prevent one car from idling for more than 20 seconds will result in a dramatic improvement in gas mileage.

    How do I know? My car computer shows average gas mileage, as well as current. I can improve my gas mileage from 27 mpg to 32 mpg if I manage to coast through major roads at 45 mph, instead of having to stop at every friggin red light. All it takes is to have a timing chip control each light, program it according to traffic patterns and expected (or even desired!) speed of cars, and you're done. Instant improvement in gas mileage, and instant reduction in oil imports.

    It boggles my mind how Europe had those things down pat 20 years ago, but here they still don't get the concept of a green wave on major roads.
    • by jo7hs2 (884069) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:38PM (#19054341) Homepage
      There are a few places that do this, mostly in tourist areas. Ocean City, Maryland has a rolling green light timing that works very well. Here in Birmingham, US 280 is a prime example of a road in need of proper timing. With lights, it can take an hour to get 8 miles, without, it takes 8 minutes. If I drive during rush hour all week, I get 280 miles to a tank. If I drive all week when there is no traffic, 400+ miles to a tank. Just because of the traffic the lights cause to get small feeder road users onto the main road.
  • Need Smarter Hybrids (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superid (46543) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:10PM (#19053781) Homepage
    As others have already pointed out, hybrids could benefit from this too.

    I have a prius. I have a 20+ mile commute one way. Yesterday I averaged 70.3 MPG for the trip home. I did this using manual "look ahead" and very carefully planning braking and coasting just to see how high I could get it. You can easily blow 10MPG with one bonehead maneuver from lack of attention but this manual concentration on mileage is probably as distracting as talking on a cell phone.

    I'd welcome the technology in my prius or in my SUV. Both can benefit.

  • Backwards Headline (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:11PM (#19053805) Homepage Journal
    Hybrid cars are better than the typical cars. Now there's a prediction that "intelligent cars" will also be better than typical cars, as much better as are hybrids. So the correct headline is

    "'Intelligent Cars' As Good As Hybrid Cars"

    Otherwise the headline is about hybrids, which this story is not about. And it implies that hybrids aren't so good, as if not-so-good "intelligent cars" are their benchmark.

    Plus, the research is only a single prediction of a complex system yet to be built, let alone tested, so a correct headline would be in the future tense, anyway.
  • by nominanuda (786275) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:14PM (#19053867)
    I have a honda insight, and since I've moved to Providence, RI, I've seen my fuel efficiency drop from an average of 70 miles per gallon per tank of gas (in Connecticut driving mostly on back roads at moderate speeds) to 60ish (mostly city driving) in Ann Arbor, to barely 45 mpg here in Rhode Island. I am convinced that it is mostly the fault of poor traffic planning here. I've never seen a city with worse timing for the lights. You will often get a green light only to be forced to stop 30-40 feet away at another light that turned red the very instant your light turned green (Benefit and Waterman/Angell anyone?)

    with that said, i always did wonder how much of my great mileage in Connecticut was due to the fact that I could watch and keep track of my mpg. ie. would I see a similar increase in mileage in a non-hybrid car just by being able to monitor my driving efficiency?
  • by mypalmike (454265) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:15PM (#19053893) Homepage
    Well, except that I can actually buy a wool coat.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:19PM (#19053991)
    We can end our dependence on fossil fuels and solve the obesity problem in the U.S. in one fell stroke: ban automobiles and give everyone a bicycle.

    Not to mention that road fatalities would drop to effectively zero.

    I'm not saying...I'm just saying.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      We can end our dependence on fossil fuels and solve the obesity problem in the U.S. in one fell stroke: ban automobiles and give everyone a bicycle.

      Not to mention that road fatalities would drop to effectively zero.



      Millions of out-of-shape obese people forced, overnight, into bicycle commutes, often in the tens of miles?

      I think "effectively zero" fatalities is rather unrealistic.
  • by Ambiguous Coward (205751) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:11PM (#19054967) Homepage
    Hybrids? Bah! Intelligent cars? Bah! Drive a motorcycle. I have an early 90's model Yamaha that easily gets 70mpg. On some of the newer bikes, you can get 80 or 90. Some may have broken 100. Plus, you still get to race to the next light, stop, idle, and take off again like you do in your car! Now, imagine the mileage of an intelligent hybrid motorcycle.

    Alternate solution: don't ever leave the house. Perfect mileage! Let the pizza delivery guy worry about mileage. :P

    -G
  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:27PM (#19055265)
    Now, the real question will be whether or not you can convince consumers that the three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic is worth the 33 percent less gas and replacing your brake pads/cylinders less often.

    All you have to do is make it so people who have this feature get an extra vote on Dancing With The Stars or American Idol. BOOYAH! Instant success.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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