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Transportation

A New Use For Drones: Traffic Scouting 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the drone-find-me-a-gas-station-and-some-donuts dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Renault's new concept car gives drivers an unusual companion: a small flying drone, controllable via tablet or preset GPS waypoints, which scans the area ahead for obstacles and traffic. The so-called 'flying companion' can exit the vehicle via a retractable hatch in the roof, and buzz around the immediate vicinity shooting video and photos; as this is a concept, actual hardware and software specs aren't available, although Renault's engineers envision something closer to the size of a small bird than some of the larger drones currently available. But how practical is a 'driving drone'? Considering all the accidents caused by people texting or Web-surfing while driving, it seems questionable to introduce a piece of hardware that could prove even more distracting—imagine trying to successfully guide a drone with touch-screen controls while navigating a fast-paced roadway, and you can see why the idea of a "flying companion" would raise the collective blood pressure of traffic-safety officials. Yes, it would be safer for a passenger to handle drone-flying duties while the driver concentrates on the road; but it's also a near-certainty, if such a concept ever went into production, that more than one driver would attempt to multi-task the navigation of two vehicles at once. Do you think this idea is feasible?"
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A New Use For Drones: Traffic Scouting

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  • Kill Beta! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
    Wow, did they actually disable the firehose because of the Beta protest? I can't seem to get to it.

    Boycott on next week!
    • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:12PM (#46188623)

      They're also actually deleting posts now too. Quite a few of mine have disappeared. Amazing that they have time for this, what with all the effort they're putting into listening to us and modifying the beta accordingly.

      • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sowelu (713889) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:20PM (#46188721)

        It's not that I don't believe you...but I don't believe you. Find a hole in the post ID numbers where yours used to be. It looks like they're incremental, so if there is a post 47190001 and 47190003 but no 47190002, then we know something is wrong. (Same thing if they fill the gap with a later post and the timestamp on 47190002 is greater than the one on 47190003.) Yeah yeah I know it's a pain to track all the post IDs you make, but for something like this, if it's really happening to you, it would be worthwhile.

        One of the absolute core tenets of Slashdot has always been that they don't delete things (unless someone sues them for a billion dollars, and even then, only once). It's important to be able to prove it if it happens.

        • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:24PM (#46188779)

          You can't. The comment list is suddenly broken now too. I can only look at about the last 20 or so posts (the list end abruptly and there is no longer an option to go to the next page). But I looked back through the articles from this morning and can tell you that several of my posts that I know were there are suddenly gone.

          • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Arker (91948) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:35PM (#46188907) Homepage
            So from now on keep a list on your end of post IDs. Each time you post add the ID to your list. Next time one is deleted you will be able to prove it.
            • by TWiTfan (2887093)

              That's a good idea.

            • "Next time one is deleted you will be able to prove it."

              That does nothing to prevent, or prove, other methods of stifling dissent--moderation abuses.

              I've been posting the following in several places at once--AFTER I watched the first one get modded up to +5, and almost instantly (less then 30 seconds) go back to +1)--and every single time...it gets modded up, then back down and then, once the body of the post is no longer visible, STAY THERE.

              So, fuck you, Dice. Here goes again.

              US5722418
              +
              US5644363
              +
              GoogleGlas

        • by TWiTfan (2887093)

          I found an example. One of the them is comment #46185253. You can still see it here [slashdot.org] if you go to it manually. But if you go to the actual article [slashdot.org], it's gone. It was under the top "Why?" thread. But now it's gone from the comments when you look at them in the article.

          • by TWiTfan (2887093)

            You can't even see it if you expand out the "Why?" thread all the way. Here [slashdot.org].

            • by suutar (1860506)
              i was able to see it by going down to the bottom and hitting "load a few hundred more comments" a few times.
          • by cfulton (543949)
            Wrong I see comment #46185253 in both places. Are you wearing a tinfoil slash hat TWiTfan? Cause you post is still there. Or maybe they put it back. Or maybe they have just deleted it so only you can't see it.
            • by TWiTfan (2887093)

              I hope you're right. But I sure didn't see it before. I even did a search, expanded out every sub-thread--nothing.

              • by claar (126368)

                Simple explanation on this, actually. That article has a ton of comments, so I had to click "Load More Comments" before I could see your reply #46185253.

            • by Qzukk (229616)

              I see it in Classic, but i had to press "Load more" on the beta site probably 10 times before it magically appeared where it was supposed to in the nested tree (which is total shit, nobody's going to scroll back up to see if new replies were loaded in the middle of all the stuff we just read through.)

        • One of the absolute core tenets of Slashdot has always been that they don't delete things (unless someone sues them for a billion dollars, and even then, only once). It's important to be able to prove it if it happens.

          Indeed, which is why talk of post deletions is so important to verify. Has it really become that kind of site? Just another barely concealed attempt to exploit an actual community into providing advertising impressions?

          Deleting posts would be the death knell for me. The way we use the site is important, but the ethos of it is moreso. A Slashdot that arbitrarily deletes things it deems unwanted isn't one I'd like to contribute to.

          I'm sure we'll find out, one way of another.

      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        To be fair, many of the posts are variations of "BETA IS TEH SUKZ" and little in suggestions (other then shut it down). Perhaps constructive criticism would not hurt.

        • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:34PM (#46188883)

          Quite a bit of constructive criticism has been offered (not just in the last two days, but for months now). The exact complaints are pretty damned clear at this point. The problem isn't that they aren't aware of the problems with the beta. The problem is that they've not been corrected, and now they're going to force the beta on us.

          I personally don't care about the beta, as long as we can keep the Classic option. But if you're going to force it on me, at least make sure that you're not stripping functionality away from me. Add whatever dumb feature you like (as long as it doesn't get in my way), but don't take away my ability to see a simple comment list with replies and mods listed. Quite a few others have also complained about the lack of Unicode support, the annoying whitespace issues, and onerous javascript.

          • Re:Kill Beta! (Score:4, Informative)

            by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:45PM (#46188999)

            To be clear, I looked at the Beta site and am in line with the general thinking. Having been a /. member since 2000 there is something solid about the look and feel that has not changed much in over 14 years. Clearly the beta site is trying to look like other sites (presumably held by Dice?) and it does not work (or look good).

            I made my comment before I read some posts that advocated a protest/boycott. How funny though, with all the "we need to boycott" statements i've read in /. over the years taht was met with "grow up, boycotts don't work", here is now one called on the fertile soil of /. ... will this one work?

            I'm going otu on a limb and say, boycotts never work unless you can truly convince the vast majority to join in and I'm guessing that demographics of /. have changed. Current owners figure they can weather the storm.

            As for me, I may check out this very young upstart [altslashdot.org] I just read about here on this site. Though I'll hang with this ship for a bit, I'll check out the upstart and at the least, add my voice (I cannot help code as I don't do python).

        • "Delete the beta source code and fire the devs/managers responsible for designing it" (which is, effectively, what is being said when people post "BETA IS TEH SUKZ" in the numbers that they are IS constructive criticism. The problem is that Dice and/or the Slashdot managers don't want to hear it...

      • by ultranova (717540)

        They're also actually deleting posts now too.

        So beta really is some PHB's pet project, then.

    • by zidium (2550286)

      Fuck Beta! Fuck Beta

      My Lord! The peasants are revolting!

  • Fuck Beta (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here [pastebin.com] so links don't get mangled!)

    On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot d

    • by Salgak1 (20136)
      OK, we've seen this countless times today. You've made your point. At this point, the "Fuck Beta/Kill Beta" is SPAM. . .
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sure, if your car is the only car doing it.

    • by skids (119237)

      Eh, it will give us something else to prop up against telephone poles alongside the lost hubcaps.

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      This is supposedly targeted at large cities where the larger avenues already have networked cameras accessible to the public. Since cars are getting connected and getting apps an app to direct the nearest camera in front of you to the in dash display would effectively do the same thing. Now in the woods this would be great for scouting prospective camping/hunting areas prior to venturing out.
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Now in the woods this would be great for scouting prospective camping/hunting areas prior to venturing out.

        That's actually a great idea - these would be great for wildlife management/observation. Choppers are loud, these are nowhere nearly as loud.

    • by Garridan (597129)
      No. This doesn't even make sense if there's only one car doing it. The idea of a human controlling such a drone is laughable... landing on an aircraft carrier in an open ocean is hard enough for experienced, trained pilots with hundreds of logged hours -- an untrained civilian landing on a car swerving around in traffic, while possibly controlling said car? With a rat's nest of utility lines, traffic signs, street lights, business signs and tunnels directly overhead? Bullshit.

      Even assuming an AI that
  • by demontechie (180612) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:03PM (#46188511)

    More than 10 years ago even! [cmu.edu]

    If only Dice had a way to learn from the past... [slashdot.org]

      • by mwehle (2491950)
        Absolutely, man! This was my first thought also - Renault needs to make a version of The Powerful Mach 5.
      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        Now if they make it operate by pressing 'G', that will be cool. Something interesting stuck me watching that clip (besides the memories, I loved Speed Racer), the Mach Five was a little environmentally unfriendly. Cutting down trees without concern about the impact of the forest, for shame. I think later on there was a dump oil mod (or maybe that was the bad guys) which certainly did not help the environment either. Watching Speed Racer did not turn me into a race car driver, but in an odd way, I thunk

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Also my first thought and glad I found the same thought here so I didn't become redundant.

        Question: Doesn't this qualify as Prior Art? It should.

    • by kimgkimg (957949)
      Actually more than 30+ years ago (see the 'G' control button): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]
    • I seem to recall sketching up this idea when I was 10 years old, just after watching Smokey and the Bandit. No drones then, so the passenger (navigator) in the car flew an RC plane ahead to look for Smokey...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why on earth would you need to manually control the drone? It could easily know the route you are intending to take, and could be 100% automated...

    • by icebike (68054)

      Why on earth would you need to manually control the drone? It could easily know the route you are intending to take, and could be 100% automated...

      And the airspace over heavy traffic will be totally clear, right?
      You will be the only drone user on the road?
      All the drones will be maintained in 100% working order, just like the cars are?
      And all drivers will resist the urge to watch their drone?
      And no one would think of hacking them, right?

      • by mikael (484)

        Every drone could have it's own small radio transmitter. If it detected the signal of another drone (the inverse square distance law), it could adjust it's course automatically.

    • Controlling the drone manually suggests that the controller is watching via the camera in the drone. In California, at least, watching video visible from the driver's seat is illegal.
  • by _hAZE_ (20054) on Friday February 07, 2014 @02:06PM (#46188541) Homepage

    Would it not be easier to just install traffic monitoring devices along roadways, and let your car's on-board navigation system interface with those? That way you don't need the traffic scouting drone, and the inherent risks that come with trying to operate one while driving.

    I could see it now.. inattentive drivers/operaters causing the traffic scouting drones to collide with other traffic scouting drones, creating drone "road kill". What a mess.. No, this is a Bad Idea(TM) all around.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Would it not be easier to just install traffic monitoring devices along roadways, and let your car's on-board navigation system interface with those? That way you don't need the traffic scouting drone, and the inherent risks that come with trying to operate one while driving.

      Everybody is carrying a traffic monitoring device [google.com] in their pocket or purse. Its pretty accurate and up to date too.

      • Will it stream me uncensored video of the gory carnage that's blocking the road?

      • What you're talking about is practical - what Renault is showing is a concept car.

        Concepts usually include highly desirable (at first glance) features that never become practical enough for production. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Wait what? No monitoring is evil, and bad. Google is just using their data to make advertising money.
        It can't possibly be that they use their tracking data to provide me something useful, remember I'm just a product! /Slashdot mentality.

        No seriously this is the mentality of some people here. I actually had someone try and tell me they'd rather have their taxes spent on a city based traffic monitoring scheme in every city in the world than to use something that people already have. What a wasteful idea.

    • by xlyz (695304)

      Would it not be easier to just install traffic monitoring devices along roadways, and let your car's on-board navigation system interface with those?

      and that how is supposed to be fun?

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      In the ideal world, you'd share your drone with other views, broadcasting like TV.
      You'd have a database of channels for segments of road and would flip between them, automatically.
      The traffic authority would operate the drones, which would be automatic because they are GPS guided.

    • by ripvlan (2609033)

      Exactly how I see it playing out. There will be more traffic jams and crashes in the sky from all of these drones filling the air. Yes - parts will rain down from the sky and kill small children. The sky will go black from the flocks of drones. Did they get this idea from playing Call of Duty?

      Next somebody will sell an accessory laser so your drone can shoot others out of the sky as a sort of crash avoidance system.

      Available only to the rich.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Hey, Drone Wars would give us something to do while we sit on the parking lot er I75...

  • Now we all get to be Speed Racer!

  • Subject line says it all.
  • TLDW; Viper was a TV show using a Dodge Viper as the protagonist. There was no problem so great that it couldn't be solved with clever application of a steering wheel and gas pedal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    ~Sticky

    • Strange: When I search slashdot for "fuck" I get many results, When I search for "beta" I obviously get even more results. But searching "fuck beta" come up with no results!
  • by ShaunC (203807)

    Fuck Beta. The community should come together, put together a drone, and have it trail a banner over the Dice HQ building that says: "F U C K B E T A." I've got a five on it, if we can make this happen.

  • Err, what happens if two or three or more users are flying these at the same time, along the same ideal path and elevation? Until we get some real nice automated localized collision avoidance, you're going to end up with tangled wrecks of drones falling out of the sky into traffic.

    • by Herve5 (879674)

      mod parent up.
      How shall we handle many automated drones above a highway in a way that guarantees I won't get one into my windscreen?
      This not to talk about responsibility share in the event of such an accident, nor about the related laws that remain to be crafted...

  • Arm it! (Score:2, Funny)

    by coinreturn (617535)
    I'll get one if it includes weapons for deployment on stupid drivers. Or even Kamikaze mode.
  • beta beta beta (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by dciman (106457)

    Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here [pastebin.com] so links don't get mangled!)

    On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot d

  • Considering the fact that driverless cars are also being worked on, all the drone would need to do is communicate the information to the car so that the car's computer can reroute/slow down/act accordingly. So, yeah. Seems pretty feasible.
    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      But of course, by then you might as well just have the city/town provide the drones themselves instead of having thousand drones from a thousand drivers. I think.

  • How about we stop looking for ways to have to glue ourselves to some digital screen for every moment in our lives... And how much time is it going to save when you got idiots trying to find their lost drones.
  • Its amazing that technology and companies are finally catching up with the old Speed Racer cartoons.
  • The only way this could be useful is if it unleashes a finger of doom from a minigun to do away with the "motorist" causing the backup.

    Although, I'll "settle" for having this scout go out, locate said "motorist" and send me back footage of why this one person is causing the 2 mile backup behind them.

    My morbid sense of curiosity demands that I know who the fuck just backed up the turnpike.

  • How about protesting (and not commenting) on even days and commenting normally on odd days? That way, Dice will be able to gauge how much of their so called "audience" that creates the actual deliverable of the site is leaving for good, while still preserving some value just in case they see the error of their ways soon.

  • This might, marginally, make sense for serious off-roaders, which is what Renault is pitching. There's been a lot of interest in this in the military, where knowing what's over the next hill can save your life. For road driving, it's silly.

  • you can see why the idea of a "flying companion" would raise the collective blood pressure of traffic-safety officials

    Noooooooooo! The stupidity of manual driver control (are there really people out there this fucking dumb?) would just give them the reason they're seeking anyway to clamp down on a showy and unorthodox public behaviour.

    Everyone else, you can boycott the BETA. I'm going to trash the stupidity of the story submission in the vast majority of stories that show up here now. To each his own.

    A

  • This is the kind of military model scout concept that works great when the 1 percent do it - but utterly fails when the 99 percent do it.

    One drone over a traffic jam is one thing.

    6543 drones over a traffic jam crashing into planes and helicopters and police drones and DOT drones is a total catastrophe.

    People don't get that stuff that works when very FEW people use them is ok but when anyone can buy it, the impacts - and by this I mean the objects falling from 1000 feet through your sunroof and killing you o

  • Combine this drone with the phone/tablet killswitch and much hilarity can be had!

    - or -

    A new sport. After all, skeets can't dodge, and mailboxes are just too easy a target... Highway drone shooting!

    ---

    I used to think /.'s biggest problem was dups! Now we've got BETA -- and I promise to NEVER complain about dups again!
     

  • I have had this daydream before, many times actually. In theory it wouldn't really even need to be driven by the driver but could be nearly completely autonomous, or sync up to navigation systems already being used to provide more relevant data....etc. Sure.

    However, I doubt it would be that useful in many situations. Sure it may be able to bring back some nice shots, or something but, if you are stuck in traffic, you are stuck. If its about to clear up, it may clear up before your drone can return.

    Mostly it

  • WEAPONS! So you got cut off. You've got a drone at your disposal. Imagine the possibilities.... hack that puppy into a lean mean traffic revenge machine! The roads just got safer my friends!
  • I've often wished for one of those in the car.

    Especially after jacked up trucks with with tractor tires became popular.

    And please vote this out of the Firehose:

    http://slashdot.org/submission... [slashdot.org]

    • by unitron (5733)

      Someone came around over 24 hours later to mod my suggestion for a periscope as a drone alternative off-topic.

      Is Dice sending out the goon squads now?

  • by rizole (666389) <rizole.gmail@com> on Friday February 07, 2014 @03:33PM (#46189415) Homepage
    There's too many off topic comments here. Please stay focused, the topic is fuck beta.
  • Seriously, while the 'scout' concept is flawed, a real life cam-bot that can keep up with traffic could be quite useful.

    There's no need for a human operator in this case because it's just keeping a static position relative to your vehicle.

    What do you think sirs? I'm quite anti-drone, but given that our Orwellian police state seems dead set on having them we may as well get a few perks too.
  • How about my car just takes-off? That way, I only have to control one device at a time.
  • Just use Google Maps.

  • By the time the drone has enough collision-avoidance to keep from crashing into everyone else's drones (probably using some kind of identifying beacon), it will be better to have the drones form a mesh network to transmit views from different places, than to have each drone fly to a point of interest to get their own (redundant) view.

  • Until bird-sized drones become as cheap as disposable cell phones, no one will fork out money for a one that's limited to the single use of scouting traffic, or limited to being able to communicate only with a Renault vehicle. It will have to be a general-purpose device, able to communicate via wi-fi (or similar non-proprietary means) with other computing devices.

    And there are better ways to gather data about traffic... such as the Waze app [wikipedia.org], which knows the precise speed and position of other Waze users wh

  • Both on anime race cars, both used for scouting ahead and navigation.

    Speed Racer's Mach 5 could launch a fixed-wing drone that looked like a bird. Also good for shenanigans :-P

    The Cyber Formula (basically fantasy F1) cars from Future GPX Cyber Formula launched what we might today call "atmospheric satellites." It gave live maps and provided something like a GPS signal, I guess the authors thought GPS would never be available to civilians. Only slightly better than what you can get on a smartphone today. Als

  • I cant wait for my personal drone to fly me to worj=k, with Lois Lane in my arms

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