Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology

Traffic Studied Using Computer-Linked Cars 264

mprindle writes "Yahoo News has an AP article about a system that links individual cars to analyze traffic patterns, which allows the drivers to avoid traffic jams and accidents. This system is part of the 'smart highway' initiatives. The data from the car is sent to a central server and from that data traffic patterns in a 40 mile radius. According to the article this technology is less expensive than using poll mounted antennas or ground sensors."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Traffic Studied Using Computer-Linked Cars

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:49PM (#12333416)


    From the summary:


    According to the article this technology is less expensive than using poll mounted antennas or ground sensors.


    Another fine proofreading job, Zonk.

    --
    Go ahead...mod me down...you know you want to.
  • From FTA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:50PM (#12333425)
    From FTA: Acura's 2005 RL features a navigation system that provides real-time traffic updates for 20 major cities; information is transmitted to the cars via XM radio satellites. Traffic data is aggregated from local police, transportation departments and other sources. The big question: How much are people willing to spend to avoid sitting in traffic? List figures 10 to 15 percent of drivers in a given area would need to participate to make the system effective. The devices bought separately cost about $1,000.
  • by fbartho ( 840012 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:51PM (#12333431) Homepage
    lmao. the poster has been online too long... I believe what he was looking for was a pole mounted sensor... Its funny how what you do everyday becomes evidenced in the misspellings you cause. Go with that where you will.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Its funny how what you do everyday becomes evidenced in the misspellings you cause.
      everyday


      adj.
      1. Appropriate for ordinary days or routine occasions: a suit for everyday wear.
      2. Commonplace; ordinary: everyday worries.

      n.
      The ordinary or routine day or occasion: "It was not an isolated, violent episode. It had become part of the everyday" (Sherry Turkle).
      You, sir, must be quite the boring person.
    • We had a graphic artist once who called the neighbourhood cafe and ordered:

      "One Tuna Sandwich on Rye Bread, with Chips and no pixels pleas..... er, no PICKLES please! Thanks."
      • No doubt. My roomate makes video games. A while back we were camping with a group of people. As he looked intensely to the fire, he suddenly got a disturbed look on his face. Then he told us why: for a couple long moments he was trying to figure out the framerate.
  • wife alert (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:52PM (#12333436)
    will this alert me when my wife's car in the vicinity, when my ... um ... "colleague" ... is with me in the backseat ...
  • by pummer ( 637413 ) <[spam] [at] [pumm.org]> on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:53PM (#12333442) Homepage Journal
    If EVERYONE has a computer in their car to help them avoid traffic jams, then it would be absolutely pointless. The traffic would become more widely distributed, sure, but it'd shift away from highways that are designed to hold traffic, and into residential areas that aren't. You're going to have traffic somewhere, so whether it's on the highway or on another road is immaterial. Thus, these computers are pointless for anything more than data-gathering.
    • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:57PM (#12333467) Journal
      If everyone had computers in their cars to analyze traffic, then another computer could do a mapsearch and find the quickest way home. This would speed up everyone's journey home. It'd speed up the user using the computer to get home, and it'd speed up the commuter trying the congested lane too.

      And I'm not even talking the convincing evidence that could be taken to widen roads or make new roads.
      • This can and will likely create problems. Once drivers commit to a route, based upon trafic at time 'X', and at time 'X+Y' an accident occurs, then at time 'X+Y+Z' the flow will be messed up potentially worse that without a recommended route.

        • We had that problem in Baldur's Gate. Solution? "Enhanced Pathfinding" in Baldur's Gate 2, makes the characters recompute their path every few steps. The only time youre ever committed to a path on the road is between exits on the interstate, and with proper information you should only get stuck behind those ~1% of the time that you do now.
      • Ummm, no it wouldn't speed up everyone's journey home. Those of us who already take back roads everywhere that are NOT congested will get more congested routes. It will only speed up the journey of those taking the routes that are congested over the average point.
        • We already have this problem in the town I live in. All throughout the day it's usually much faster to take this certain back road, but between 4pm to 6pm it's will take you an hour to go what should take 3 minutes of driving because everyone thinks they're gonna beat the traffic...lol
          • Exactly. Its not like the algorithm will only work for highways. It will determine congestion on all the possible routes, and suggest the best one.
            • Yes, but if everyone uses it [which is needed for true congestion reports], everyone will be spread evenly, slowing down those who normally take faster than average routes and speeding up those who normally take slower ones.
              • Most places, there are enough people driving the roads regularly to ensure that on the average, there are no faster than average routes. The problem is that without timely information, drivers can only optimize for the average conditions.

                With real-time feedback drivers can optimize for current conditions, increasing the throughput of the whole system. This increase in efficiency means everybody's average drive time, and the variance, can decrease at once.

    • You have to remember that there is such a thing as a traffic engineer. Most potental accident locations have alternate routes pre-plotted. The detours may take you on lower capacity roads, but if you have the ability to filter over a wider area you could overcome this problem by directing people to different alternates. This could really help in some cases.
    • Wouldn't that just be analogous to using mapquest to find the quickest route before leaving home?

      Or are you saying that there should be a computer to find everyone's quickest route on the fly? I think that wouldn't work, because, say, on an Interstate, most people are going in the same direction (away from the city). If there's a traffic-causing disturbance (say, an accident), everyone is going to need to bypass that accident on the way home. The computer would need to be really intelligent to take into ac
      • Or are you saying that there should be a computer to find everyone's quickest route on the fly?

        On the fly, based on traffic patterns on the roads. Map quest doesn't take into account the current traffic load.

        I think that wouldn't work, because, say, on an Interstate, most people are going in the same direction (away from the city). If there's a traffic-causing disturbance (say, an accident), everyone is going to need to bypass that accident on the way home. The computer would need to be really inte
    • A residential thru street is still a lane, even if it can only move at 20mph. There are a lot of residential streets with essentially no traffic that could take load off of the main freeway. If I knew where those roads are I'd take them around some traffic jams. In fact just having a different random set of driver take the side street everyday could relieve congestion for everyone. Once a month I'm a little late for work because I had to take the side street is better than late everyday because every

      • Once a month I'm a little late for work because I had to take the side street is better than late everyday because everyone was on the main road and there wasn't capacity for it.

        Maybe you need to rephrase that... it looks like you were trying to reword that sentence but didn't finish :)
    • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:07PM (#12333527) Homepage Journal
      Per Bak the author of How Nature Works [amazon.com] gave a good overview of the theory of , Self Organized Criticality [uniroma1.it] as he developed it using his famous sand pile [adit.co.uk], and how it applies to gridlock, inter alia.
    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:09PM (#12333540) Homepage
      Nope. That won't be true for a few reasons.
      • First is that everyone will never have this technology. There will always be a few without it. But that's a minor reason.
      • Not everyone will follow the system's advice at all times.
      • As people follow the advice and go to side streets, the severity of the origional backup will decrease so that fewer people will bother to avoid it.
      • Not everyone CAN avoid the problem. There is no way for me to get from my house to the local college without traveling on the highway near my house. To avoid traveling that highway would be 30+ minute detour. Short of actually closing the road, it is usually better for me to just drive through it.
      • People will go elsewhere. If I'm planning to go to spot A for one errand and find out there is a traffic jam there, I'll go to spot B for a different errand and avoid that whole area. I may avoid it for the day (errand at A was unimportant), or just put it off 'till later (say after C and D) at which time the traffic may have subsided, and I may be in a position where instead of having to drive north to my destination through the traffic, I now must drive east so the traffic jam wouldn't be in my way.
      • Last is there is more than one alternate route. As the traffic jam happens, people will turn off who are near there because the system tells them too. As those streets start to slow, the system will warn people who get close to take different alternate routes avoiding both problems. And as the do that, the origional will clear up, leading me back to my first point.

      I don't think it would be a problem. I think it would help. Kansas City's Scout System [kcscout.net] provides simple info on some routes (big accident at X and Y, avoid) so that people can avoid it, and it does help. Plus because the message is on many signs (instead of right before the problem) you can avoid the problem from 1 mile away or 20.

    • Maybe you could sell cheaper versions that suck data off of a real working version. Even better, a version that allows you to override the real data; simply plot in the route you are taking and this automatically gets fed to all your cheap knockoffs as the slowest route for everyone else so that you can get where you are going quicker.
    • But in practice not EVERYONE will have a computer in their car to help them avoid traffic jams. Many cars will navigate by more traditional methods. As time progresses transportation will continue to evolve, and these computers will become old hat as new devices and perhaps methods of transport arrive. You'll never get 100% saturation. These computers therefore could be a great asset.

      Of course in my case, I'm lucky to see more than 10 moving cars on my drive to work, and my tinfoil hat would never perm
    • by shawb ( 16347 ) on Monday April 25, 2005 @12:53AM (#12333987)
      It really isn't immaterial. Treating traffic flow as a fluid dynamics problem [amasci.com], it becomes apparent that reducing the flow of traffic will untangle traffic snarls, improving the flow. Basically, the more cars try to jam into a bottleneck, the slower traffic becomes, the slower it becomes, the worse the bottleneck becomes, untill traffic comes to a standstill with people still trying to jam themselves in. Sort of like early in rush hour, traffic flow is generally very heavy, but quick. Somebody having to hit their brakes, due to tailgating, being cut off, or not let into a lane causes small ripples of congestion which add up to the point that traffic flow comes to a standstill or at least a major slowdown. Appropriately reducing traffic flow at key points could eliminate or at least reduce congestion, without the costs (financial, social and environmental) of adding more lanes of concrete.

      Although teaching people how to drive and to actually use lanes appropriately would probably do more than any technological gizmo that we could create at this point.
  • by slakdrgn ( 531347 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:54PM (#12333447) Homepage
    *puts tinfoil cap on head*


    They'll tout the lower the cost of the 'system' so they can easier monitor our location, driving habits and speed. When in reality, they are artificially lowering the cost of the system just for those benifits.


    *takes off tinfoil cap*


    Doubt it'll ever happen in my lifetime (with all the whisle blowers and such out there) but still.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:56PM (#12333462)
    But how long until we can get some level of computer-controlled vehicles? Once the technology has matured a bit, I'd MUCH rather trust a reasonably engineered computerized system than the thousands of other drivers around me on my way about town. Not that I shouldn't be able to turn it off, but I think the concept would really grow once we switched the carpool lane to the auto-drive lane, and manual drivers learn to stay clear of the 80+mph traffic that flows on it.

    Ryan Fenton
    • Not that I shouldn't be able to turn it off

      Personally I can't wait for the day when you can't turn it off. The sooner we get human drivers off the road the sooner the 40,000+ per year death toll will go down to the hundreds. A highway system full of self-driving cars would not only be safer, it would be self-optimizing. No need to worry about the best route home. Online traffic maps would be for entertainment purposes only. Just read your newspaper or lean back and take a nap.
      • Wow! The future's today and it's called mass [njtransit.com] transit [mta.info].

        The only way we will truly have safe highways will be by removing auto dependency from people's lives so that they do not need to make so many trips, thus decreasing the likelihood of an accident.

    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:18PM (#12333580) Homepage
      That option to turn it off is the problem, as I see it.
      • If every car on the road is human controlled, things are fine (as we have it today).
      • If every car on the road is computer controlled, things are fine (computer knows what's happening)
      • If only some cars (possibly as few as one) are controlled by humans, things are MUCH more complex than if computers controll everything.

      It is this kind of thing that will make switiching over very tough. My guess it there will be special lanes at first (not unlike the carpool lane, speedpass lanes) that you drive into manually (or into an "entrence zone") and press a button and let the car take you in, and it takes you out (into an "exit zone") where the car puts you back into controll and you drive the rest of the way.

      As things progress, there are more and more of these lanes, and fewer and fewer "normal" lanes until you only have these lanes on highways and such. Then people only drive on streets (which would be safer anyways, no 80+ mphs speeds). From here you can make specific streets (the largest ones, one way streets, whatever) computer controlled only. Then you expand that untill you get to where cars are computer controlled only everwhere.

      All this would take years, to weed out the "normal" cars as people bought cars that had these functions, and that could be speed up by governement encouragement (tax breaks on buying them/gas/licenses/incentives/etc) and such.

      It will probably happen in our lifetimes (unless someone invents a transporter or an aircar or something that is computer driven from the start and those quickly supplant the car as the main mode of transportation). Should be interesting to watch.

      • I'm inclined to disagree. I guess we'll find out which of us is right over the next 20 or so years :-)

        I cannot imagine any system in which the computer can assume all other objects which must be avoided are either computers or stationary. For a start there are things like kids or dogs running across the road. Then there are the changes in the road layout which someone forgot to report. Finally there are the broken computers (bit-flips) and crazy humans deciding to take the fast lane.

        The only way I can
      • As while I agree that getting all computer driven cars to work together is a few thousand times easier than a mixed mode, I'd still want that manual control as a backup. I'd hate to see a REAL blue screen of DEATH ;) Then again, I'd hope that the gov't would wise up to an open source solution for such a large problem... even then, these are computers we're talking about. I've never seen one work 100% of the time.
        • 3ven then, these are computers we're talking about. I've never seen one work 100% of the time.

          Compared to perfection, you're right. But think about your commute... have you ever gone the whole way and not seen some human not working correctly?

          I get the feeling that computer malfunctions will be easier to engineer for than human malfunctions. At least the computer won't be putting on mascara while eating a donut and talking on the phone at 75 mph.
    • Are you trying to say that the computer-controlled lane would be some sort of 80+ mph express lane?

      Because around here, people commute at 85+ mph and would be passing that "express lane".
  • There are way too many people who get on a road even when traffic alerts suggest they take other routes. People who are already stuck in traffic have no real choice. But it doesn't end there. There is always people flooding out of the exits onto the highway even when it's jammed even when another route would have made things easy for everyone.

    Then again, there is the problem of people just not paying attention to these traffic alerts. In which case, this study is totally pointless.

    My two cents.
    • Somehow I could see people actually listening to the traffic alerts if they paid for the box to give them alerts moreso than if their taxes paid for a sign or radio broadcast.
  • Alternate Roads (Score:5, Informative)

    by Adrilla ( 830520 ) * on Sunday April 24, 2005 @10:58PM (#12333472) Homepage
    I find that in the cities where i've lived (San Diego, Atlanta), that even when the highways are gridlocked, there really aren't viable alternatives on surface streets. They're either too far off the route or they're also crowded. So even with a system like this, I don't know that the alternate routes would be that much better a solution, you're still spending close to the same amount of time on the road. It's either gridlocked on the highway or you're gridlocked on the city streets. Maybe better mass transit is the answer.
  • How long until insurance companies synchronize some of those devices they are testing that memorize your driving habits to some kind of wireless network? Although big brother would be watching, insurance monies would go to your pocket via safe driver discounts and analysis of vehicles' behavior right before accidents.
  • Possible flaw? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DJHeini ( 593589 )
    But what if your car is stopped in the breakdown lane because of a flat tire or something? If you are the only wired car (from the relatively small pool) on that road at that time, will the system simply think that the road is at a standstill and tell everybody else to avoid that particular road?
    • Hmmm... contemplate your question, and the recomendation that the program would only be viable if some 20% of vehicles were equiped.

      The people who put together the study are aware that with an exceptionaly small percentage, (presumably their test suite was less than 1% of 1% of the trafic in the area they tested) single sensor failures are going to have a large false effect on the data collected.

      -Rusty
    • Also, think of the ways people could mess with the system. Have a few friends selectively stop their cars on the route you all want to take home, and voila! you have a significantly less congested road!
  • Smart Highways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 514CK3R ( 875865 )
    Stupid Drivers
  • by MarkRose ( 820682 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:07PM (#12333530) Homepage
    It's funny how we spend so much time on alleviating traffic concerns, when it would be simpler to just abandon the car. It's to the point where it's often twice as fast and cheap to use public transport. When I'm in a large city, I park my car at a terminal, hop the train, and go. Not only do I not have to worry about traffic and the associated stress, I also buy back all the time I'd waste behind the wheel to catch up on reading and paperwork. And while using public transport can sometimes mean walking a block or two, it's no worse than finding a parking spot. Really, why, in North America, are we so fixated on the automobile for personal transport?
    • Really, why, in North America, are we so fixated on the automobile for personal transport?

      Because so many suburbanites scream NIMBY at the top of their lungs when a mass transit plan comes along. Example: the CenterLine project in Orange County, CA.
      • I'm visiting Tokyo for the first time... It's pretty surprising how damn quiet the trains here are. Standing on a bridge over some tracks, it sounds like ~3 skateboards going by, that's the worst it gets. Once trains become that quiet, the economic advantages you get from being close to a train station probably far outweigh any downsides.

        Whereas, back in the Chicago suburbs, I live over 1/4 mile from some tracks, and the trains wake me up at night...

        • There is a bigger problem in the U.S. than just the volume of the trains: a perceived problem that mass transit will allow the unwashed masses out into the suburbs. In many metropolitan areas the urban core pushes for mass transit alternatives, while the suburbs push for more freeway. I'll give you two guesses which group usually has more political clout when it comes to regional transportation planning.
    • by Draknor ( 745036 ) on Monday April 25, 2005 @12:04AM (#12333779) Homepage
      Really, why, in North America, are we so fixated on the automobile for personal transport?

      Because some big corporations (General Motors & some others in the auto industry) decided they'd make more money that way. Here's one blurb [bilderberg.org] that starts discussing it (scroll down a few paragraphs):

      One dramatic example is the "Los Angelizing" of the US economy, a huge state-corporate campaign to direct consumer preferences to "suburban sprawl and individualized transport -- as opposed to clustered suburbanization compatible with a mix of rail, bus, and motor car transport," Richard Du Boff observes in his economic history of the United States, a policy that involved "massive destruction of central city capital stock" and "relocating rather than augmenting the supply of housing, commercial structures, and public infrastructure." The role of the federal government was to provide funds for "complete motorization and the crippling of surface mass transit";

      Another choice quote:

      The private sector operated in parallel: "Between 1936 and 1950, National City Lines, a holding company sponsored and funded by GM, Firestone, and Standard Oil of California, bought out more than 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities (including New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Los Angeles) to be dismantled and replaced with GM buses... In 1949 GM and its partners were convicted in U.S.district court in Chicago of criminal conspiracy in this matter and fined $5,000."

      Here's a more detailed history [trainweb.org] of the controlled demolition of the Bay Area "Key System":

      General Motors, and some other companies in the automobile industry, acquired 64% of the stock of the Key System (officially the Railway Equipment and Realty Company) through a "front" company, National City Lines, in 1946. They replaced the board of directors with their own stooges, who then approved a motion to scrap company plans to purchase PCC type streetcars and electric trolleybuses. Today it would be called a "hostile take-over." Orders for more trains were cancelled. Soon they started to decimate the system, first destroying the electric trolleybus line (that, while still under construction, was almost completed) followed by streetcars and electric trains.

      It's a small comfort to know that the US government whoring itself to corporate America's interests is not a recent phenomenon.
      • "You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful."
        -Judge Doom, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
    • Really, why, in North America, are we so fixated on the automobile for personal transport?

      Because of the time value of money (heh, actually the money value of time...). I live in downtown Chicago. I recently bought a car - before that I had to use public transportation. I used to spend $15 each time I had to go to this one weekly meeting - and it took 50 minutes to get there, and 50 minutes to get back. Now I drive - it takes 15 minutes to get there, 15 minutes back - and costs about $1.00. If I was
      • Do you really think that in the 45 extra minutes between 7 and 8 AM that you won't sit on a bus is the kind of time that someone will pay you for?

        I mean, it's 11:12PM wherever you are, does that mean that the value of your post to slashdot was $8? (assuming that you took 5 minutes to write it) If so, please tell me where to send my invoice for this post.

        If you need someone at 2 in the afternoon, that's premium time. It's light outside, and most people will be at work (so you can contact them). Shops wi
      • One potential flaw with this reasoning is that the 50 minutes to get there and 50 minutes to get back does not have to be wasted time in a well organized system. Take care of some reading or light paperwork. Work out a problem that you have. This would take a slight improvement on the technology as I doubt the current American train or bus is the best place for studying/reading/working, but the concept is there. If you are driving those 15 minutes each way pretty much HAVE to be spent driving.

        And inc
    • I'm another person that doesn't have access to mass transit. The transit system of the closest city is kind of a mess. A person might wait in some places for 45 minutes for a buss that are supposed to run every fifteen minutes.
    • It's to the point where it's often twice as fast and cheap to use public transport.

      Not here in Portland, OR. We claim to have a great public transportation system. I live 12 miles from work and my commute takes me right through downtown. If I take the light-rail (which stops one block from my house, and stops 3 blocks from work), my commute time (not including walking) is a solid 1 hour and 20 minutes - each way.

      I can drive with no congestion in 20 minutes. The worst congestion I've seen has been a 40
  • Cell tracking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:09PM (#12333539) Homepage
    No mention of the cell tracking method someone demo'ed a couple years ago? It used data from cell towers to monitor anonymized speed data for cell phones for a certain service, as measured by 2d direction finding the various towers could perform on a phone based on signal strength.

    The method, while it generated controversy on slashdot for the possible privacy implications, was a viable and cheap method to get this same data without adding specific new hardware.
  • by new2this ( 710695 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:17PM (#12333576)
    Some of the previous post write this type of tech off without considering it could be used as one part of the solution. The only way to improve traffic is a system that effectively intergrates several options. One option, let's say mass transit, cannot do it alone.

    Imagin if you could tie this system into traffic signals. The combination of routing a certain set of vehicles to alternate routes along with changing the timing of lights on several routes could ease congestion in many cases. Most of the gridlock I see is not caused my a major accident but small incidents. Add an effecient system that deals with moving hazards off the road quickly,something like what they have on the autobahn we probably see huge back ups reduced. There will always be some gridlock but that does not mean a system has failed.
  • Big Brother (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrOctogon ( 865301 )
    Yeah, it sounds like a good idea now, but think about the privacy issues. If they can track where I am, where I'm going, and how fast, what's to stop a ticket for showing up in my mailbox everytime I go 1 mph over the speed limit? How long until some creep hacks the system and has access to everything he knows to stalk whoever he wants and do all kinds of no good? I don't want radio transmitters in my clothes, I don't want my cell phone to track me, and I don't want my car disclosing my personal information

    • and I don't want my car disclosing my personal information

      What is personal here? What is it you do in your car on your commute that the hundreds or thousands of people on the road with you can see that you don't want "big brother" to see?

      If you DID receive a ticket in your mailbox, just a hypothetical question here, not flaming, but if you did get a ticket for speeding every time you did it- how much longer would you continue to speed?

      Surely the system would have to allow for variants in speed, you c
      • Re:Big Brother (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Baricom ( 763970 )
        Surely the system would have to allow for variants in speed, you can exceed the limit by what, 10 miles an hour, when you pass someone? So here it would be dumb to be ticketed for an instance like that.
        A system that used to be in operation here had no such variation - if you were even one mile per hour over the speed limit, you would receive a ticket. Not only that, but ticket-issuing potential skyrocketed - instead of pulling over one car and writing out the ticket, the contractor just needed to point-an
      • BUT, if you're doing 150 on the highway, do you seriously think that as long as you don't get caught by a cop, that you shouldn't face the consequence for knowingly breaking the law?
        It depends. There are some roads here in the southwest US that are straight and flat for miles, and uncrowded. I don't believe there should be any speed limit unless there are other cars within a half mile or so.
    • Look, it's not like driving down the road is some act of privacy. You have a big metal idenfication number attached to your vechile at all times, and that's tied into a wonderful database containing your name, home address, past driving / conviction record which can be used by BOTH private AND police personnel.

      I appreciate that your desire for privacy, but if you want real privacy, use the bus. No identification required, and the license plate doesn't single you out.
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:33PM (#12333642) Homepage Journal
    Click here [wired.com] to read it. Same story.
  • Even better (Score:3, Funny)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Sunday April 24, 2005 @11:50PM (#12333714) Homepage Journal
    What I want is a website that sneaks GPS units onto police cars so we can find out where all the best donut shops are. At least then when I am sitting in traffic I have a dozen artery-clogging donuts to keep me busy.
  • Poll (Score:2, Funny)

    by rhennigan ( 833589 )
    According to the article this technology is less expensive than using poll mounted antennas or ground sensors

    Poll: Mounted antennas or ground sensors. You decide!

    [ ] Mounted Antennas
    [ ] Ground Sensors
  • using poll mounted antennas or ground sensors

    For a second, I thought the article talked about polling the data rather than having the sensor device interrupt when data was available....

    If the system becomes popular enough, they'll have to switch to DMA mounted antennas and ground sensors to handle the data throughput...

    ...............Oh wait..... Now I get it. It's supposed to be POLE and not POLL.... My bad.
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Monday April 25, 2005 @12:53AM (#12333982)
    This is just the first step towards what will ultimately be the future of individual transportation: Cars that drive themselves.

    General Motors has been doing all sorts of experiments with cars that are driven by computer. They've shown some experiments on television where about eight or ten cars are driving eighty miles per hour on a road at "tailgating" distance from one another.

    The idea is not that computers are better at driving than humans, but is a solution to the problem that the driver of each vehicle sees only those cars that are immediately around him on the road. This means that if the vehicle in front of him is stopped, he must stop, too. Imagine a stoplight at an intersection. The light turns green, but you're behind ten cars, so by the time you start going, the light turns yellow again. Why? This is happening because you can't go until the car immediately in front of you goes, and the driver of that car suffers from the same problem. What if all the drivers communicated, so that when the light turns green, everybody would push the gas at exactly the same time? And more specifically, if everybody pushed the gas exactly the right amount so as to accelerate at exactly the same rate? Many more cars would make it through the intersection before the light turns red. Also, we'd all get where we're going a lot faster. That is currently impossible because there is no "central command", no way to create an overall driving strategy for everyone on a given road. Everybody does what he believes is best, and this causes all sorts of bottlenecks that shouldn't otherwise exist.

    A system that would essentially control all the vehicles on a road would do exactly that, and more. Now, I imagine that at first, this will only be available on a select few roads as an "experiment", and only people whose cars have the internal components to steer and control themselves at the instruction of external computers will be able to participate. I think the system would work by providing central control locations on a sort of grid, where each section of road has its own control system, and as cars leave one section of road and enter another, their information would be passed on to the next computer down the grid. Also, each vehicle would have to contain the additional sensors to "close the loop", essentially by providing an internal control inside the vehicle that would allow it to slow down or come to a stop in case there is something in the road that the central computer doesn't know about, or some other condition arises.

    This system would have tremendous benefits:

    • Instead of driving to work, people could spend the time watching television, reading a book, working on the day's reports, or otherwise conducting meaningful business. Gone will be the days of people yacking on their cellphones and crashing into you in the process.
    • The commute will be a lot shorter. With all cars controlled in this manner, a distance of twenty miles will perhaps take twenty minutes to travel. Currently, the traffic situations in many cities mean that a twenty mile commute to work is a multihour affair. In the greater Los Angeles area, for example, the distances really aren't that great. The distance from Santa Monica to Anaheim is barely thirty miles, yet during rush hour, it will take well over two hours to travel that distance.
    • There will be no need for traffic enforcement or traffic tickets. There will be no speed limits. The speed of vehicles on a road will be programmed for various driving conditions, and therefore, civic problems like traffic enforcement will be a thing of the past. The police will have time to fight "real" crime.
    • There will be a significant reduction in traffic accidents. Nobody will accept such a system if cars will routinely crash into each other or fly off the road. These systems will undergo significant experimentation to make sure that they are absolutely reliable, in much the same way as airline traffic control is mission critical. Even if the system goes haywire, this wi
    • Oh, and there was something I forgot to say: In addition to the vehicle control grid, there would be higher levels of central command computers that would make routing decisions. In other words, which route your vehicle takes would depend on many factors, such as which roads are more vacant than others. This will allow a more equal distribution of traffic across the many roads we already have.

      And one final note: I'm sure that the software controlling all of this could undergo all sorts of optimizations. Ima

"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God but to create him." -Arthur C. Clarke

Working...