cars technologies

(Re: Article by Jim Louderback - editor - Ziff Davis Media - PCMag/eWeek)
See below. Not too bad... I proposed this in discussion (not written in the
thesis though, just said it to my supervisor Dr Ken Taylor) when I did my
4th year Engineering project. Personally though I took it a step further,
saying that they'll have it automatically take over the car driving
completely, if need by to avoid an accident - steering and all. After all, I
was doing the speed control for automation of the landcruiser project, but
why not also control the steering (we planned to, anyway!). You'd need damn
good software to interpret pedestrians, road signs, etc better than a human
can - it'd have to, to be able to take over from us safely.
However it can calculate the directions and so on of all other drivers in
their cars, and using engineering knowledge built in, can know exactly which
way to turn or brake or accelerate, in order to avoid and/or minimize any
impact or accident situation. After all, we have excellent knowledge of
collisions, momentum, friction, engineering-dynamics, etc also we can make
prediction of potential ability to turn (given the computer can read speed
and direction from the cars instruments) or what *each* particular car can
conceivably do by way of manouvring (you'd have it to do a periodical
calibration per car or base it on age of tires and type, car model/make/age
etc) so why not use it to know what exactly the car is capable of, and use
this in automatic accident avoidance.
Taking it a step further, once all cars are networked (they can all have
little infra red sensor and transmittors on the bumper bars perhaps, for
example, or short range (50 metre max) radio transmittors/receivers), then
they can in fact make a COLLECTIVE decision (intelligent) all by computer,
on a networked basis, about which way each cars automatic control system
will react in order to minimize and hopefully also always avoid an
accident - so that accidnets will in fact be a thing of the past and now
almost impossible to happen (certainly by human cause impossible nayway - if
your wheel suddenly falls off causing your car to hurtle toward another car,
then you'd still have the network making a 'best possible comprimise' in
order to minimize any accident situation for all drivers, for example the
car would try and compensate using steering, braking, whatever, for the
situation ,to attempt to safely stop, and nearby cars would automatically
steer away from the onciming path, in the intelligent context of KNOWING
*exactly* what the car is actually about to do in the context of its
situation, since the cars computers controllers are now communicating with
each other (which is what wil happen automatically if a potential accident
situation is ever detected by any car on the road).
I think a computer system is potentially far outweigh anything a human could
But not only in accident avoidance - also in driving. After all, if you feel
like it you can drive, but if you want to talk to the kids, just switch it
to automatic and let the car drive you to work, after you punch in the
destination on the map/ GPS aware/ etc.
Or maybe just say where you want to go and it confirm it first with a street
map or photo to make sure. After all, we now have online detail maps (is it
zoom from satellite?) of a lot of the world, you can go on a virtual 3d tour
to lots of places and see what it actually look like being in the street
there (video footage?), take it a bit further and you can actually see the
buildings and people (defence policy restricts the satellite images
resolution unfortunately, but anyway this is the future, maybe not anymore
then). You can check if your workplace looks open first, by looking up a
recent (last 5 minutes?) satellite scan of that portion of the globe (if
this actually possible to store and scan that much information of the entire
globe and that often though..)? Aim for the ground and you'll get the
ground, aim for halfway ot the ground and you only get halfway, so why not
aim further (though yes I agree, do things in small steps is good).
I think his article is just the beginning of the future, that's only the
Also he talks of hybrid - fuel cell + petrol. What about solar? Why not
hybrid fuel cell + solar + petrol, then?
Personally I think, what if we weave in solar material into clothing, then
you can sit in the office all day and come home all ready to plug in and
charge up your car. Well, perhaps clothing is not quite necessary, cause you
wouldn't get much from fluro lighting moreso only really for outdoors,
I suppose perhaps when you hang out your clothing to dry after being washed,
then you bring it in hours later and plug it in to charge up the car.
After all, surely the solar cell silicon lines need not be rigid nor in a
straight line, can you coat them in a extremely thin flexible plastic layer
followed by a flexible nylon? protective layer (someone can figure out the
materials to use.. has to be waterproof but not cause any annoyance when
worn) and then weave them as a thread in amongst other threads making up the
I think the only issue would be how to store the energy - ie battery.
Perhaps the "Australian washing line Mark II" can be produced which picks up
current flows from underside of the clothing, and forwards it into charging
a built in battery (perhaps a fuel cell, at that!? since they so efficient?
and only water as a byproduct.. for environment friendly).
Maybe that another one of my off the planet ideas.. but who knows... imagine
how many pepole hang out their clothing in the world, imagine how much
sunlight and energy would get picked up.. would it be enough to power you
house and car for the week? or day? Or maybe with some more improvements in
solar technology? Just an idea.. I think one solution to effectively
increase efficiency is to cover everything we own in solar cells (hehe).
How about bricks that are solar cells. Then the bricks plug together,
however way the builder happens to put them, so that the whole walls and
roof (tiles too!) are now solar cells. How about making the solar cells
material transparent so all you see is normal looking bricks and tiles.
Phase array radar, borrowed from the Pentagon (news - web sites), >will
track cars around you, ensuring safe separation by warning you >first, and
then automatically braking or speeding up to avoid an >accident.
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sports and weather, a rolling internet node will help you get around
accidents and avoid problems. A new type of wireless technology -the mesh
network- will automatically and dynamically configure and reconfigure a
network using all the cars in, say, a 500-foot radius. If one car spots
trouble -an airbag deployment, or something in the road -- all the other
cars down the line can be warned in advance.
Entertainment: As flat color displays get cheaper, expect them to
proliferate throughout the car. The entertainment hub - a combination movie
server, TiVo (news - web sites) and game console - will live under the front
seat or in the trunk of most cars. Advanced audio technology and
noise-canceling headphones will turn every car into a personal home theater
customized for each passenger. Most cars will be outfitted with satellite
video and audio, helping to make the car at least as connected as the home.
Navigation: Today's add-on systems will seem antiques compared to the
advanced navigation systems in tomorrow's cars. High tech road sensors will
communicate with the traffic sensors in your car to help identify - and then
avoid -- traffic jams. And those same networks will also make it easier to
find a gas station, hamburger joint or bathroom, just when you need it most.
Driving Experience: Dashboards will increasingly resemble computer displays,
with only a handful of knobs and switches. Someday voice recognition will
advance far enough to let us speak our commands, but it will take a while to
perfect. "Up" and "off" sound remarkably alike - especially when you're
trying to kill the radio.
Electronics: The roar of the road will be reduced to a murmur by special
noise-dampening plates on windows, doors, ceilings and floor. Fiber optics
and LEDs will replace wires and light bulbs. Mechanical controls, like the
brake and accelerator, will be replaced by electronics. And much like
today's airplanes, cars will bank into turns, making them more maneuverable
and responsive.
Don't be fooled, though. Automotive technology may have some amazing
potential, but it needs a lot of work. As long-suffering computer users
know, it's best to shy away from version 1.0 of any new technology. Alas, no
one told the designers of BMW's 7 series. They built in a radical new
controller - called the iDrive - that failed miserably. Difficult to learn,
horrible to use, it also had a tendency to fail. Respected auto analysis
site Auto Spies put it best, "the concept is brilliant but the software
interface is idiotic."
We shouldn't be surprised - because the iDrive was built on top of Microsoft
Windows. The next iDrive version - which was rushed to market - performed
better, but woe to all the version 1.0 users: you can't upgrade a car.
Jim Louderback is the Editor-in-Chief for Internet sites at Ziff Davis
Media, which runs the popular technology sites and,
along with print magazines like PC Magazine, eWEEK, Electronic Gaming
Monthly and Computer Gaming World. Jim's first adventure with computers
began with playing Star Trek during high-school on a PDP-11. Since then he's
developed applications and installed networks for many Fortune 500
companies. For the last 12 years he's been reporting on the technology
industry in print, radio, television and the Web.
Cool Car Gadgets:
- Clarion VRX935VD Car DVD Player
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More Tech Tuesday for February 10, 2004:
- Cars Go High Tech
- Hack Your Car
- The Best High Tech Cars
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Cars with auto-pilots have been suggested since at least 1970. Computers are only fairly recently getting small, fast, and cheap enough to make this a possibility. Also digital camera technology is only recently getting good and cheap enough to make adequate sensors.
Speed control is a comparatively trivial undertaking. Socks
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Control could be mediated through a signal strip in the highways. Only those cars that respond positively to input signals would be permitted to move on the highways, so free moving cars would have to be excluded.
Railways have been running (essentially) diverless trains for decades. For example, the drivers on the Washington D.C. Metro are there as window dressing for the public. They do not do squat. The computers drive the trains. Digital vision devices are not required for this system to work.
Bob Kolker
Reply to
Robert J. Kolker
| Cars with auto-pilots have been suggested since at least 1970. | Computers are only fairly recently getting small, fast, and cheap | enough to make this a possibility. Also digital camera technology | is only recently getting good and cheap enough to make adequate | sensors.
I don't want to even be on the road with, much less in, any vehicle running on auto-pilot if any Microsoft code is involved.
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Mati Meron | "When you argue with a fool, | chances are he is doing just the same"
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[emoticon wraps warm coat around shaking emoticon and tells stories about virgins, fairies and inside straights]
Subtract a hundred and four for e-mail.
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You're basically talking about an Expert System inserted in between the manual controls and the roadway. Sounds good to me; I've always wanted a car at leasr as smart as a fish. Fish manage to perform complicated maneuvers en masse without colliding. I'd prefer to be able to just "herd" the car ("go that way, and handle the details") if I felt even slightly distracted (or distractable) instead of having to focus all my attention on the driving process fulltime. Now, which "expert" do you model the system after, some Grand Prix speed demon, or your spinster aunt Betsy? Or maybe a rainbow trout?
Of course, if the thing starts losing competence, I want full manual control on demand.
I can't wait for the inevitable Windoze- and Apple-based autodrivers' incompatibilities. They used to call cars "buggies"; that could come back with new meaning.
If you break a job into small enough tasks, and have fast enough processors, decent hardware interface, etc, I agree. _IF_.
Electric. But the least stupid idea I've ever heard is to tax every driver to support a system involving power conduits in the roadway itself, and fairly short-term storage capacity in the car to handle system glitches. If you are licensed, you use it. If you aren't, you don't need it.
For longer interstate stretches it wouldn't be economical, and you'd need a special endorsement (competency test-driven) and independent power.
It'll take some major infrastructure rearranging, but that's coming slowly anyway.
Works for me. Get together with Feerguy.
Mark L. Fergerson
Reply to
Mark Fergerson
Sure thing. Anyone here ever check out "DeathRace 5000"? Jaywalking will be a thing of the past if I ever get a crack at that software.
Cheers, Tony.
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There was recently a demonstration project of this type of techology in California (see PATH AHS). It included a demonstration stretch of highway restricted to AHS vehicles. Several vehicles would be platooned (following each other) and driven hands off.
One interesting sidenote--a video was taken showing the platoon cars driving by with all the drivers hands up ( like on a roller coaster). The funny thing was adjacent was the regular highway, and the cars there were driving faster and spaced closer together. So much for technology!
Reply to
dave y.
Spaced closer together? I don't think so. DO you have a link to share?
Reply to
Richard Henry
Probably the platooned cars were going the speed limit and properly spaced by the "three second" rule. Real traffic routinely spaces itself so closely that there's no room for a lane change and no room to stop, although there always should be.
Reply to
Gregory L. Hansen
Sorry, no. I saw the video at work. Some people I worked with were involved in the project and they brought back the video and played it.
Reply to
dave y.
Incidently, I think one of the big challenges of this technology is the determination in real time of the characteristics of the tire-road interface, i.e. how does the system know if it's on a dry road or slick ice?
ABS systems do this but you have to be braking at the time. Is there technology to measure this continuously?
Reply to
dave y.
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Scroll down to "8 car automated platoon" for a ram video.
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for a still photo.
Reply to
Richard Henry
It's probably limited by policy reasons. The technology can generally cope with seperations of well under a meter. You may be talking about over 10 cars/second, for a convoy going at speed.
You've got to consider problems of course.
For identical cars, if the cars are autocontrolled, whatever one car encounters, the next one will too.
If the first car got round a bend, then all the rest will. There are a very few faults that would cause problems.
Any uncontrolled braking of any vehicle in the platoon will have minimal effect, as it can brake no harder than the vehicle behind it.
There are problems.
Reply to
Ian Stirling
Bob, while that may be true of the Metro Trains which run and are guided by steel rail, it sure isn't true of WMATA's bus system which have no equivalent constraints imposed on their vehicles' paths.
While working at General Railway Signal Company, I was the senior system engineer in charge of control system design for Washington's WMATA rail system, so I'm still pretty familiar with the technical details of its operation. I also performed the same function for Atlanta's MARTA system and parts of the Frisco's mainline rail system.
The automation of rail guided transit is relatively simple, because only one degree of freedom is present. For automobiles this increases to 2, and for aircraft and space vehicles, 6 (x,y,z coordinates, plus roll, pitch and yawl). Hence, the problem of automating automobiles is a considerably more dicey problem. It is currently being addressed by something known as IVHS (Intelligent Vehicular Traffic System) within the DOT, but its problems are no way near a solution.
Getting back to the Washington Metro System, the automatic train control system does not employ computers in controlling train motion, only supervising their operation. The actual train control system is hierarchical, and consists of three key parts, (ATS) Automatic Train Supervision (the computer part), Automatic Train Operation (responsible for nominal starting and stopping of trains at stations), and (ATP) Automatic Train Protection, which has the responsibility for assuring that the train stops safely at all times -- essentially the contemporary equivalent of the older railway signal systems.
Only ATS involves the use of a computer. Both ATO and ATP subsystems are totally implemented in equipment on the train or immediately adjacient to the track. The system is, without operator intervention, completely fail-safe. This means that whenever an unsafe condition exists, the train halts. Sadly, this luxury of system design does not exist with either cars or aircraft! :-)
Not to minimize imporatance of the ATS system, it constantly monitors train locations and compares them with the wall clock scheule showing where they should be, and then factors in real world complications such as existing traffic problems, adjusting train performance accordingly. As you have correctly stated, this system requires only that a train operator depress his "ATO Start" button at the begining of a run, then simply sit back and enjoy the trip! (It was only union regulations that mandated that a train operators presence was required, and then only to monitor and if needed override automatic door operation on the train.)
Hope this helps.
Harry C.
p.s., As a possibly humorous aside, we controls people spent well over two years discussing the operation of "platform edge lights". One group wanted the edge light to indicate where a train was going to stop, while another believed that doing so was a safety hazard. At the time that I left the project, it was decided that all of the platform edge lights should flash in advance of the arrival of an approaching train, giving no indication of the position on the platform that the train would berth. Is this still the situation?
Another humorous aside is that the bronze tablet on the outside of the WMATA OCCB has a switch in back of it to detect its removal, and post an alarm in the train control room! Go figure this one out, since that bronze tablet cost far less than did the alarm circuity and programming needed to detect its theft! Also, when you pass though Smithsonian Station, note the switch in the tracks. I'll leave you to guess where that spur leads, and why. :-)
Reply to
Harry Conover
Well ... yes. But it couldn't be any worse than being on the road with human pilots who are drunk, fatigued, emotionally distraught, distracted, super-annuated, or just plain incompetent.
Since in much of the country bars are in places only conveniently accessible by car, and since people will continue having parties from which their guests will drive home, driving under the influence, not to mention all the other influences, will not be solved until cars at least have the intelligence of Dobbin.
In the midwest they will also have to have the intelligence to leave the motor running and the heater on until the passenger revives or is collected; or else we will replace freezing deaths for traffic accidents.
Reply to
Edward Green
The "traction control" built into the anti-lock brake system in my '93 Eagle Vision TSi. The TC sensed wheel slip and applied the brake (pulsating) to the slipping wheel. This not only allowed the slipping wheel to remain in contact with the surface, but delivered more power to the opposite wheel. It worked great on snow, but IMO got a tad dicey on ice. There was a switch on the dash to disable the TC function.
Reply to
Keith R. Williams
Yes well, everyone knows that greater distance between cars is safer - if something go wrong with one car, gives the others more time to react.
I don't think you'd want the cars closer together and driving faster, just because its automatically computer controlled. I think it more a case of, you could sit back and watch TV that drop down onto in front of the dashboard, listen to music, close the windows even (you don't have to look out any more if you don't want to know about the traffic jam up ahead that could still exist after all, its the humans that all decide to leave at the same time and during rush hour), catch up on some work on the way there.
Maybe they should stagger working hours, to finish between 3pm and 7pm instead of all finishing at 5pm.... but it is convenient to all finish at 5pm because then you get to be in the office during the same hours.
Actually I think communication technology is going to make offices no longer required (after all, I.T. contractors work from home sometimes for example, over the network). But we'll still like offices, or common meeting places, because its good to get together in person. Just you won't have to do it as often.. maybe once a week.
So then the load on the roads might decrease somewhat.. in theory.. enabling us to sustain a greater population that still seems to keep going up, but without impossible levels of road infrastructure.
How are we going to do it in the year 3000.. ? what's the projections I wonder..
Maybe we'll all just need to invent amazing flying vehicles so we can occupy all the available airspace as wel as groundspace, like in scifi..
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