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Ford's New Radar Technology Based On Open Source 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-hands-prepare-for-ramming-speed dept.
zakkie writes "Ford is releasing new safety-enhancing radar equipment for its 2010 Taurus sedan. The radar itself is based on F22 fighter radar, but interestingly, it's claimed that the software is built from open source. What that may mean, in the vague, waffling context of the article, is unclear, but it's interesting simply because they've gone to the effort of stating it in those words. Clearly, 'open source' is being thought of outside the IT world as a good thing, and that surely is itself a good thing. The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.'"
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Ford's New Radar Technology Based On Open Source

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  • Detection (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tokerat (150341) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:01PM (#29405417) Journal

    The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.

    ...as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

    • Re:Detection (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:05PM (#29405451) Journal

      ...as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

      Is there any point in the modern world to having a radar detector? I've always been under the impression that a lot of law enforcement agencies are now using LIDAR, which is virtually impossible to detect until your car is being painted with it (i.e: it's too late to slow down). Even the ones that use radar generally turn it on and off with a trigger instead of leaving it running all the time -- which further reduces your odds of detecting it before it hits your vehicle.

      I've always wondered if the things are actually worth the cost but most of the online literature about them seems to be put out by the manufacturers -- hardly a neutral unbiased source.

      • Lidar sucks (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:22PM (#29405547)

        What they can achieve with radar is constant 360 degree monitoring. The local police has gray vans that look like ordinary vans. They park them somewhere near busy intersection. The systems in the car track the movement of every car around the van, and automatically take images of the targets going too fast. Basically there are no police officers sitting inside, they just leave the car there and send you the speeding tickets a few days from the incident.

        Also, radars have improved in the past years. Most of the new systems have advancements from military radars - they hop frequerencies and whisper instead of yelling. The amount of energy they put out has dropped to 100th of what they used to do. At the same time the quality of the radar systems have improved. The old ones used to have quite high margin of error whereas these new systems are accurate to centimeter/hours.

        Lidar is hard to spot but in overall they suck because they can't do all the coolest tricks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by David Gerard (12369)

        Sounds good to me - nicely Darwinian for dealing with speeding idiots before they could hurt someone else!

        "Hyurk, I'll drive at 100mph, no radar in sight ... oh shit, blue lights."

        • ...and that braking maneuver out of the blue is actually more dangerous than merely going 100 mph with road conditions that allow it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by beav007 (746004)
            If you can't brake safely for an emergency situation from 100mph, then it wasn't safe to be doing 100mph.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lgbr (700550)

        Is there any point in the modern world to having a radar detector? I've always been under the impression that a lot of law enforcement agencies are now using LIDAR, which is virtually impossible to detect until your car is being painted with it (i.e: it's too late to slow down). Even the ones that use radar generally turn it on and off with a trigger instead of leaving it running all the time -- which further reduces your odds of detecting it before it hits your vehicle.

        While there have been a huge number of advances in radar technology, the radar detector technology keeps up with it well. The two are made by the same company, after all. LIDAR is definitely not ideal for so many situations. To use LIDAR, a police officer must be stationary and actually outside of his cruiser. LIDAR is also defeatable because laser jammers are legal in most states [guysoflidar.com]. Finally, there are entire states that do not use LIDAR [thenewspaper.com]. This is why radar is still much more common. I do know that radar detec

        • by hedwards (940851)
          I wouldn't recommend making that bet. States that allow detectors do for a reason, it's usually because they use the same band as other common motion sensors and the duration is typically very short. Additionally, in parts of the state, they monitor for speeding via helicopters, which renders that sort of technology moot.

          More often than not you'll be doing what the police really want, which is slowing down, they don't really care whether they issue tickets or not, if people drive the posted speed limit a
      • Re:Detection (Score:4, Informative)

        by macwhiz (134202) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @01:03PM (#29405861)

        LIDAR requires that the officer be stationary, have their window rolled down, be parked such that they are shooting LIDAR as close to parallel with the flow of traffic as possible, and not have any weather conditions that would obstruct the laser (or make life really miserable for the officer, as the window is down). The officer has to actively aim the device at each car he wishes to clock.

        On the New York State Thruway, most of the traffic enforcement still uses Ka-band radar. The radar units are permanently installed on the cars and don't require exposure to the elements. They can provide accurate readings while the car is in motion, allowing the officer to patrol while still checking speed. Many cars have dual fore-and-aft antennas so they can clock cars ahead of and behind them. They can park the car and leave the radar on, not only slowing down traffic that has radar detectors, but letting them work on other things while waiting for the radar's "too fast" alarm to go off.

        I'm not surprised NYS Troopers don't use LIDAR as often -- it's much more of a hassle for them to use.

        As for detecting LIDAR: If you have a dark-colored car without a lot of reflective chrome or a front license plate, and you leave your headlights on, it is possible to detect LIDAR before it locks on to you, at least some of the time. Car and Driver tested this several years ago and found that, while it's difficult to beat LIDAR, it's not impossible.

        As for "instant-on" radar: Yes, it exists, but there's that convenience issue again. Rarely do I ever see officers using it on the highway. Should one wish to speed while using their radar detector, the safe thing is to only do so when there's at least a few cars visible ahead of you. That way, your detector will be set off when the officer uses their "instant-on" to clock the cars ahead of you.

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          I'm not surprised NYS Troopers don't use LIDAR as often -- it's much more of a hassle for them to use.

          In my area (Binghamton) that seems to be what they use the majority of time. They will either get out of the car and aim it at individual cars or you'll see them position the car in such a way that they can roll down the window and use it that way. I've never known them to use radar in this area, every speeding ticket I've ever seen was obtained either with LIDAR or by pacing.

          Guess it depends on which part of the state you are in.

        • Re:Detection (Score:4, Interesting)

          by pongo000 (97357) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @03:34PM (#29406941)

          Should one wish to speed while using their radar detector, the safe thing is to only do so when there's at least a few cars visible ahead of you. That way, your detector will be set off when the officer uses their "instant-on" to clock the cars ahead of you.

          Better yet: Save your money, and start your trip at the speed limit. Eventually, someone will pass you (whom I will euphemistically refer to as the "decoy"). Speed up, keep pace and a mile behind your decoy, you're set to go. (Why a mile? Some morons get indignant when they know others are filching off their radar detector coverage.) Oh, and check your rearview mirror once in a while for the cops that like to troll the roadways while exceeding the speed limit and not on an emergency call.

          (You all that are snickering at the use of my term "filching" really need to get a life.)

    • Could be worse... I can see some people treating this like a video game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Scene: a future episode of Cops

        Suspect: 142 mph? Fuck yeah, HIGH SCORE! Take THAT, CT Route 67!

    • by joaommp (685612)

      Actually, that was funny :P

    • Re:Detection (Score:4, Insightful)

      by causality (777677) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @01:44PM (#29406165)

      The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.

      Hell with that. Can they invent a car that pulls over, stops, kills the engine, and locks the wheels/transmission and ignition for 15 minutes when the driver gets too close to another car? Preferably with an alarm that cannot easily be shut off. That'd make me feel safer on the roads. No, really, the whole problem with driving is that the nuisances which endanger others often happen with impunity. If by "too close to another car" they mean "tailgaters" then this would be better than they deserve. If by that phrase they mean people who don't know how to safely perform a lane change, those are worse than tailgaters.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      The interesting question is "can it be reprogrammed as a radar jammer/spoofer"?

    • ...as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

      Reason enough right there. Everyone I know with a radar detector is a prick behind the wheel.

  • Tailgate alarm (Score:3, Informative)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:04PM (#29405439)
    Based on my own driving experience, it seems the trucks need the tailgate alarm more than the sedans!

    I'm comforted by the fact that my small car has a very short stopping distance, but it's certainly mitigated when I'm going to get run over by an oversized Hot Wheels in the event of a quick stop.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      In a panic braking situation, assuming the brakes are actually working, there's very little difference in stopping distance between vehicles.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Good point: The amount of energy that needs to be dissapated is linear in mass and quadratic in velocity (KE = mv^2/2). The maximum static friction force is also linear in mass (F_fric = mu*m*g). The work (or energy) is the force times distance. Setting these equations equal to each other, you find that: d = v^2 / (2*mu*g) Stopping distance is independent of the mass of the vehicle. Speed, being quadratic, is a huge factor. And mu, which depends on the tires and the road is also important. (So is g, of
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Why the hell do you have a score of zero? Mods, fix this.

          Back in junior high the cops came and did a presentation on road safety. One of them, an accident investigator, told us that a little car stops in about the same distance as a fully loaded semi (before ABS they used to work out how fast you were going by the length of the skid marks, no correction needed for type of vehicle). I didn't believe him. Then he worked out the math on the board just as you've done.

          I guess a cop doing physics on the board

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by icebike (68054)

          > And mu, which depends on the tires and the road is also important.

          A bit of an understatement there.

          The number of square inches tire on the road and the pressure of those tires comes into play as does the texture of the road surface. Because trucks run higher pressure tires, they have fewer square inches per pound than do cars.

          Since the road surface is essentially the same for all vehicles at a given point, it comes down to square inches when brakes are applied hard.

          However, there is often an inverse r

      • I drive a Yaris, which (according to Motor Week) does 60-0 in 120 feet. An F-150 does the same in 150 feet.

        If that truck is tailgating the car and the car stops in a hurry, they would certainly collide.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nitehawk214 (222219)

          The braking distance isn't the problem during tailgating. It is the reaction time of the tailgater. Even if the tailgating car has a significantly better stopping time, it wont make a difference if the driver does not hit the breaks within a second or two.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Those numbers are meaningless without error bars. Just like Mythbusters, I really doubt Motor Week did multiple trials and calculated a p-value. In that kind of test a twenty percent error isn't unreasonable, and certainly not worth betting your life on.

          So: the F-150 shouldn't tailgate. Nor should the Yaris.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by soundguy (415780)

        There is a significant difference in stopping distance between "juice" brakes and air brakes. Assuming identical reaction times, air brakes take from 500ms to a full second LONGER to initiate mechanical movement. Every professional driver already knows that however, since it's part of the written test to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) with an air brake certification. It's why truckers who aren't dickheads leave a few extra car lengths between them and the next vehicle, especially late in their

  • Is it "green" too? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donutello (88309) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:24PM (#29405571) Homepage

    Sounds a lot like buzzword bingo to me.

  • 17mpg? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manfre (631065) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:26PM (#29405587) Homepage Journal

    "The Taurus 2010 will average 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the motorway, on a par with the competition"

    Is this sedan competing with SUVs and trucks?

    • They're probably only talking about American competition.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      A car with that kind of mileage is actually saleable in the US? Wow. I get a real world 50-62mpg out of mine, and it's no even one of the new 'green' cars.

      • Re:17mpg? (Score:4, Informative)

        by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr@b[ ]oefr.org ['hto' in gap]> on Sunday September 13, 2009 @01:04PM (#29405865) Homepage Journal

        Imperial or US gallons?

        And, how big is that car? The Taurus is approaching the size of a Mercedes S-class, and has a 3.5 L V6.

        Also, US fuel economy estimates for everything but hybrids are lower than real world fuel economy.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I have a 1982 Mercedes with a 3 liter turbo diesel and no fancy engine management that gets superior mileage. It is an S-class. While Chrysler products can draw from some Mercedes technology, the best Ford can summon up (for a production type vehicle) is Volvo. Chrysler products are only using E class suspension design anyway. Granted, my 1982 S-Class has antiquated design in many ways, but then again the rear suspension is more than superficially similar to what Porsche used in the 944 all the way up to ab

        • by barzok (26681)

          Also, US fuel economy estimates for everything but hybrids are lower than real world fuel economy.

          The revised EPA mileage numbers & testing process are much more realistic than they used to be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DittoBox (978894)

      It's a 3.5L V6...what did you expect? The bi-turbo model has a great power-to-mileage ratio. It has the power and torque of a 4-4.5L V8 but the mileage of V6. For reference my 2001 Volkswagen Jetta (Bora, in EUâ"it's the sedan Golf basically) with a naturally aspirated 2.8L VR6 gets 20/24 mpg and has 175HP and about 180 lb.-ft. whereas the The Taurus SHO has .7L more displacement but gets 365HP/350 lb.-feet, at 17/25 mpg. That's very efficient considering the amount of power it's producing.

      Quite honest

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        I'll admit those are still ugly numbers though, anything south of 30/35 for a daily driver is awful, particularly for a sedan.

        It's pathetic! My '82 MBZ 300SD won't get up and go like this thing will, but it will seat four adults in posh comfort (if you add a fifth it sucks, heh heh) and it gets around 28 mpg on the freeway at good speeds, which I assure you this Ford monstrosity will not. It manages this without any intelligent engine management (the engine is entirely mechanical; the "run switch" is a vacuum switch on the back of the ignition switch.) A 1989 Nissan 180SX K's (J-spec) with the CA18DET gets better than 30 MPG on th

      • The Taurus SHO has .7L more displacement but gets 365HP/350 lb.-feet, at 17/25 mpg. That's very efficient considering the amount of power it's producing.

        Yea, but it's mpg and acceleration (as well as handling) would be a lot better if the thing didn't weigh 4346 pounds. Sorry, but that's completely ridiculous for a CAR to weigh that much. When you can buy SUV's that weigh less, you know you have a bloat problem in your sedan line.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      My friends Volkswagen gets similar numbers. It has the 280HP V6. Depends on the car, engine, transmission and year.

    • "The Taurus 2010 will average 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the motorway, on a par with the competition"

      WTF? I've had two Tauruses, and both had 3L V6 motors with automatic, air, cruise, etc. My average with the 1986 model was about 32 mpg for mostly city/suburban driving. With the 1997 model, it was a bit worse, about 29 mpg. BTW, these are imperial gallons, but multiplying by 0.833 to convert to US gallons still gives 24-26 mpg for city/suburban driving. On long trips by highway, the 1986 model could average 45-50 mpg (around 37-41 mpg/US).
      Admittedly, it's not a compact car, but what exactly have the marke

  • by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:27PM (#29405593) Homepage
    Is it just me or does this sound like it might create more accidents than it prevents?

    Sometimes I recognize that I need to do a correction (speed up, slow down, watch out for some other car driving recklessly, etc.) and my wife recognizes that need at the same time and makes a loud gasp. At those moments I find myself more distracted and occasionally make a stupid mistake (like pressing the brake harder than I need to). I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.
    • Then the light bars and sirens on the cop cars should make them shit themselves and crash immediately. The thing this system has going for it is that you'd be used to it past the first few times it goes off.
      • I've seen way too many cars unsafely slow down when they spot a cop car. Sometimes they weren't even speeding but their gut reaction is "Uh oh...I'd better slow down". People will be going 5 miles over the speed limit and I'll see off in the distance a trail of cars suddenly hit their brakes and go to 5 miles under the speed limit until they get past the cop car. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it has caused accidents on occasion.
    • I remember a early 1990s (?) story where a national bus company installed a front bumper radar to enforce a safe following distance for their drivers. It would activate the brakes automatically when the driver got too close to the car ahead based on the speed. The problem was other drivers cutting in front of the bus would make the system stomp on the brakes, thus dumping the people in the bus and causing tailgaters to rear end the vehicle.

      Needless to say, it was removed pretty quickly...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mysidia (191772)

        Yes, that was dumb. But it would have been a lot smarter if it just sounded an alarm to alert the driver.

        Or if instead of imposing breaking, it prevented a stopped bus from accelerating if there was something directly in front of it.

        The problem inherent is not the safety sensor, but the 'action' wired to the safety sensor.

        It's a bad idea for a safety device to FORCE a vehicle to do something that might be unsafe in some situations (such as slam the breaks), the decision should be left to the drive

      • by mpe (36238)
        I remember a early 1990s (?) story where a national bus company installed a front bumper radar to enforce a safe following distance for their drivers. It would activate the brakes automatically when the driver got too close to the car ahead based on the speed. The problem was other drivers cutting in front of the bus would make the system stomp on the brakes, thus dumping the people in the bus and causing tailgaters to rear end the vehicle.

        Which is actually the fault of the tailgaters... Before that there
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Oh man, passengers who can't be cool should just be left home, or made to walk by constitutional law or something. That is so true. You're trying to focus and they're caught up in some wacky half-aborted attempt to notify you of a situation you saw coming before they even realized where they were.

      On the other hand, a radar system would be able to let you know well in advance that something was coming. It would be able to alert you to conditions that you're not capable of detecting, at least not as fast as i

    • I was making a right turn on a red a couple years ago, and my sister loudly gasps "Oh my God!" I nearly drove into a parked car looking around for what I missed and almost got rear ended by the car turning right behind me. Turns out she was reacting to something utterly unrelated to the road. I nearly banned her permanently from being a passenger when I'm driving.
    • I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.

      Absofreakinglutely correct.

      TFA discusses blind spots - good point. How about a simple set of CCDs and an in-dash display for the blind spots?

      But the real problem here is Ford and the insurance gang. From TFA:

      "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US put out a report last year saying if every vehicle in the US were equipped with this forward collision warning system, we'd save about 7,000 lives a year," Mr Kozak told BBC News.

      Wow. Geez - and just how did they arrive at that fact? By comparison to other similarly equipped vehicles? No, I don't think so.

      The problem here is sociological as well as financial. They're trying to "help" us. Just as other draconian measures in society are trying to help us.

      Want to save more t

    • by martas (1439879)
      well, just put a giant "don't panic" sticker on your windshield... problem solved. (and don't forget your towel).
    • Sometimes I recognize that I need to do a correction (speed up, slow down, watch out for some other car driving recklessly, etc.) and my wife recognizes that need at the same time and makes a loud gasp. At those moments I find myself more distracted and occasionally make a stupid mistake (like pressing the brake harder than I need to). I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.

      How long have you been married? It seems to me that after being married for several years, you'd learn to ignore that. Kind of like how after being married for several years wives learn to ignore when their husbands want sex.

  • by denzacar (181829) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:34PM (#29405629) Journal

    Anyone? How about a non sequitur then? No? Fruitcake?

    Clearly, 'open source' is being thought of outside the IT world as a good thing, and that surely is itself a good thing.

    You know what else is open source? Knives. Used to stab people to death. And many people find that a good thing. Surely it must be.

    Also... Nowhere in the text does it say that "the software is built from open source". No. They say:

    "...The F22 radar technology which they took and built upon was all open source.... "We then added our own Ford algorithms to determine whether or not objects are a 'vehicle target'."

    From what I gather - someone in the "chain of reporting", whether it is the BBC reporter or people at Ford has no clue what the term "open source" actually means (which no part of a clearly still partially classified F-22 Raptor isn't), and is probably confusing it with the term "public domain" - which radar technology is.

    Come on. What is next?
    A submission of a cake recipe cause it is open source? Look... you can add your own ingredients and develop it further.
    How about an open source walk?
    You know... as opposed to those covered by government grants [youtube.com] and thereby being partially owned by the government.

    • You know what else is open source? Knives. Used to stab people to death. And many people find that a good thing. Surely it must be.

      It's not like knives don't have many other uses. I mean, I can use them to cook, put them on a motor and cut the lawn, open boxes.....the possibilities are endless!

    • (which no part of government owned technology used in a clearly still partially classified F-22 Raptor is)

      OK, OK... So I've edited it a little more than just "is".

    • by dwillden (521345) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:54PM (#29405777) Homepage
      The problem with the submission is that the submitter does not realize that there is another definition of Open Source. One that is used in referring to possibly classified information or equipment. And this definition has been around much longer than the current IT realm definition.

      What Open source in this context refers to isn't the IT/GPL version of Open source it means it was developed from unclassified research and publications.

      So what it is saying is that Ford has not put classified technology into these cars, not that they used free "as in beer" software.
    • by gerf (532474)

      A submission of a cake recipe cause it is open source? Look... you can add your own ingredients and develop it further.

      What about OpenCola?

  • With the way most people drive, I see this as a completely useless gadget that will end up being turned off, disconnected, or raising complaints from drivers of cars using it. People habitually tailgate, pass in an unsafe manner, etc etc etc. The damned thing would be going off constantly, and the average driver is going to assume it's broken instead of actually questioning their own driving habits.
  • by lgbr (700550) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @12:44PM (#29405723)

    I think we're finally seeing some of the safety features that consumers actually want, rather than safety features that the government mandates. Radar guided cruise control and braking will save a lot of lives and a lot of money by almost eliminating rear end collisions.

    Another feature I can't wait to see in the average car is brake lights that flash during emergency braking. The biggest nuisance for me in my 30 mile urban freeway commute is people who get in front of me and use their brakes simply to control their speed. It means I have to concentrate really hard on to figure out how hard someone is braking. A car with flashing brake lights (you're already seeing this on many Mercedes and European cars) will flash its brake lights rapidly under heavy braking so that the driver in the car behind knows to do the same.

    It's good ideas like these that save a lot of lives and earn revenue for the auto companies that implement them, like Ford has here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642)

      Radar guided cruise control and braking will save a lot of lives and a lot of money by almost eliminating rear end collisions.

      How it will detect ice, snow, standing water/hydroplaning, and sand/gravel on the road is a mystery. Road conditions account for all my past close calls, especially unknown / unpredictable conditions. I know there are people whom don't pay attention to their driving, but I'm guessing that is an extremely small fraction of the overall driving population... I would suspect it'll save approximately zero lives and cause a net loss of money.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        How it will detect ice, snow, standing water/hydroplaning, and sand/gravel on the road is a mystery.

        LIDAR is the answer to all of these.

        Modern ABS/TC can already detect sand/gravel and will lock up the wheels for a moment to build some up if you're driving in it, when needed.

        I know there are people whom don't pay attention to their driving, but I'm guessing that is an extremely small fraction of the overall driving population...

        HAHAHAHA

        I hope very much you aren't driving in the USA. If you are, you are clearly not paying attention to the other drivers, thus you are unqualified to drive, and please stay the hell off the roads, you are a danger to yourself and others. If you are assuming this based on what it's like driving in some other country, consider that

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Depending on what makes it "difficult" to get a license, it can make things worse.

          Where I grew up you start driving at about 13 (ssh, don't tell) and get a real license at 16. It's pretty much automatic. BUT, while you don't have a license you're not driving on busy roads, and when you do get one you're probably not driving at night or in difficult conditions. Then, when you're 18 and off on your own, you've got years of driving experience.

          Where I live now most people don't get their licenses until they'

      • by pongo000 (97357)

        Lack of planning and taking into account driving conditions account for all my past close calls, especially unknown / unpredictable conditions.

        There, fixed that for ya.

    • by chord.wav (599850)
      I've used the automatic flash lights in a Citroen C4. They are great when you are in the road. They also turn off automatically when you accelerate again to more than 5mph or something. So it's one less thing to keep your mind on.
    • by martas (1439879)
      even better - giant LCD screen on the back of each car showing speed and acceleration (positive or negative), along with angles for both.
    • A car with flashing brake lights (you're already seeing this on many Mercedes and European cars) will flash its brake lights rapidly under heavy braking so that the driver in the car behind knows to do the same.

      Uhh, no, I've only seen them on pimped-out little with huge-ass wing spoilers and loads of decals & ground effect lighting who think that flashy=cool. (And they just flash anytime the brakes are tapped, not during panic braking.)

      I'd support such lights if and when it's proven that they help to reduce crashes and not just be distracting, and only if the police start enforcing vehicle lighting regulations to make sure that they're meaningful

  • From TFA:

    "F22 fighter jets use this advanced radar that can read down the road and identify everything from trees to people,"

    Dear god, I hope our (now canceled) fleet of Raptors aren't deployed actually on the nation's highways.

    "We then added our own Ford algorithms to determine whether or not objects are a 'vehicle target'.

    Not the word choice I'd use, but if the next phrase is "target locked, clear to fire", well that would certainly help with collision avoidance and traffic congestion.

    • by dwillden (521345)
      The Raptors were not cancelled just permission to purchase more than the 180 or so that have already been paid for.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Fox three mother goose. Kill confirmed. Repeat, the target has been eliminated. Standing down weapons hot. Okay honey, you can turn the DVD player back on.

  • other than the fact it is a radar I can assure it shares NOTHING in common with the F22's AN/APG-77 radar, no components, software, waveforms, algorithms NOTHING - that is some serious literary license

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @02:38PM (#29406523) Homepage

    I used the Eaton VORAD automotive radar [overbot.com] on a DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. It's a useful little device. You get, for up to 20 targets, range, range rate, and azimuth. Targets smaller than a motorcycle usually do not show up. It will not see pedestrians at any useful range. Azimuth info accuracy isn't very good, but range and range rate are quite good. That's ten year old technology; the newer units are better. Those units have been on some big trucks for fifteen years. But the technology was too expensive for most cars. It's been appearing as "intelligent cruise control" on some cars for years.

    The Eaton units, with the display and controller used for vehicles, supports accident reconstruction. The last 15 seconds are retained, and you can see what other vehicles in front were doing. Trucking companies find this useful, because they often can show that it was the other driver's fault.

  • by chord.wav (599850) on Sunday September 13, 2009 @02:50PM (#29406605) Journal

    For values of "based" near to zero.

    This is just marketing to make feel the buyer like Maverick in the danger zone. OTOH I guess it is just what a large segment of American consumers want. The closer the car is to a military vehicle, the better.

  • What I want to know is - did they incorporate the F22 fire-control systems? It's getting increasingly difficult to line up a Sidewinder shot on the tailpipe of the idiot car ahead of you. Hybrids and EVs will only make that worse - going to have to switch to fully radar-guided missles, and the current Ford package just won't handle it.

    (and you think YOU have a tough commute...:-)

  • Chronic tailgaters are either going to turn it off, or ignore it, or maybe yell back at it. What makes anyone think they're going to respect it? They already fire back at the warning signs they currently get -- the finger and the brake light.

    I sort of understand tailgating someone going too slow who could move over into a more appropriate lane. What is the point of tailgating someone who has nowhere to go?

    Admittedly this system might help when SoccerMom is distracted by the kids in back at exactly the momen

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday September 14, 2009 @03:54AM (#29411077)
    I have it in every car I drive.

    Fully automated front-view [wikipedia.org] distance estimation [wikipedia.org] with warning system for when I am too close [wikipedia.org], and a reactive system [wikipedia.org] to being the car to a halt [wikipedia.org] in an emergency. It even has the ability to activate the hazard lights when appropriate [wikipedia.org]

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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