Sunday, March 12, 2006

More Car Stuff, Making Highways Safer, Boring !

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Our terrorist transportation system kills off about 42,000 Americans a year, and we have no leadership on either side of the aisle to make any major changes, so here's another set of minor changes, which might reduce the carnage.

RFID for those unfamiliar with the concept, stands for radio frequency identification. Basically there are two parts to this system. One is a microchip that requires no power, or very very little. The second is a transmitter/receiver device which sends out a signal to RFID chips within a relatively short range, 0 to 10 feet, and gets back from the RFID information about the chip, including why it is buried where. This avoids any big brother tracking concerns.

Assume you have a receiver/transmitter in your car, continuously probing the environment under the car. Assuming this chip is connected to information about the car's velocity and brake pedal, etc.

Now, place RFID chips in two or more buried bars across the road, just before, and then right at a stop sign. The car's computer now knows when you've run a stop sign. What can it do ? It could simple tell you, "oooppps, you could'da got a ticket." If you run too many (to be defined by courts), it could activate a careless driver flashing orange light on front and rear ends of the car. In extreme cases it could reduce gas flow or cut the ignition altogether.

"But wait, there's an emergency here, I'm rushing a pregnant mother to the hospital!"

Cool, dude ! Now you pull the Emergency Transit Plug. Your vehicle now goes into alternate flashing headlight mode, and all power offs are overridden. When you do reach your destination or run out of gas, however, your car will not restart until a police officer takes a report, decides if your reason is valid, or requires a court review, and uses a special key to reactivate your Emergency Transit Plug.

Obviously all sorts of spinoffs from these concepts are possible. Cars owned by convicted DUI drivers could have a special coded blink (long, short, long, long, or whatever)to their orange lights, visible at all times.

We now have fingerprint ID devices for computers. Put a pair of these on a steering wheel, and the car only drives more than 2 miles (parking valets) if driven by an authorized owner, or the Emergency Transit Plug is pulled. This makes car theft a wee bit harder, but might make a car jacker take the authorized driver hostage. The car could be equipped with a driver side only control that activates some sort of "help me," system.

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