Friday, August 19, 2005

Carnegie Mellon Today - Smart cars and smart highways. Give me a break

I have no problems with research, science and being forward thinking. But let's be real too. I love this stuff -- but it isn't "just around the corner." In the not so distant future is not all that close, IMNSHO. Meet George Jettson....
Carnegie Mellon Today
Just around the corner, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, are smart highways embedded with millions of tiny sensors and even smarter cars that are constantly aware of the traffic that is flowing around them. Drivers in the not-too-distant future will navigate from their home to the nearest freeway entrance ramp, at which time the car must take control of much of the driving task. Commuters will barrel down the highway at 120 mph with only a few inches between their car and the next.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carnegie Mellon Builds New Technologies for the Family Car
Chriss Swaney

Will we still drive our cars, or will our cars drive us? We already have onboard navigation systems, infrared night vision, in-car satellite links, antiskid brakes and other electronic Samaritans ready to assist us when we need help behind the wheel.

Just around the corner, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, are smart highways embedded with millions of tiny sensors and even smarter cars that are constantly aware of the traffic that is flowing around them. Drivers in the not-too-distant future will navigate from their home to the nearest freeway entrance ramp, at which time the car must take control of much of the driving task. Commuters will barrel down the highway at 120 mph with only a few inches between their car and the next. But will they be concerned?

No, they will be checking the NASDAQ and gabbing on the cell phone and searching eBay until they reach their programmed exit—ushering in the age of fully automated motoring first promised in General Motor’s spectacular “Futurama’’ exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

“There is simply no limit to what we can achieve as the technology improves,” said Ed Schlesinger, head of Carnegie Mellon’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. “Cars will become nodes in a worldwide network delivering information to that network and getting information from it. You won’t have to search for a place to stop for lunch, for example. The car will make recommendations based on your likes and dislikes,” he said.

Already Carnegie Mellon researchers, led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor and GM-Carnegie Mellon Collaborative Research Lab Co-Director Rajkumar Ragunathan, are developing technology that will make it possible for cars to communicate with one another, giving drivers critical information about road conditions, traffic and even where the nearest parking spot can be found. Through a dynamic vehicle-to-vehicle networking system, Carnegie Mellon researchers are turning the family car into a mobile sensor platform capable of detecting traffic snarls and icy roads. If the car ahead of you brakes hard for some reason, your car will be notified and even brake on your behalf if you fail to react in time.

“That information can help drivers quickly modify speed to prevent serious accidents or change routes to reach their destination on time,” Rajkumar said.

Some industry analysts also report that cars equipped with network sensors could help control traffic patterns. For example, a typical highway lane can accommodate 2,000 vehicles per hour, but with increased automation that capacity could be expanded to 6,000 per hour depending on the spacing of road entrances and exits and the ability of vehicle-to-vehicle networks to monitor a vehicle’s location and velocity.

Carnegie Mellon researchers are working to create the car of the future equipped with the latest wireless networks and Global Positioning Satellite technology designed to keep drivers and passengers safe and on time wherever they are headed. Dan Stancil, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon and a GM Lab researcher, said that in industry parlance, the technology is called V2V networking, and this is the next wave of the future.

A number of projects are focused on the manner in which cars are designed and how the systems within the vehicle configure themselves to optimize the overall system performance.

“Our goal is to present information in a way that enhances the driving experience and creates systems that increase safety,” Schlesinger said.

Other GM Lab work includes studying ways to make the car’s computer systems be more “context aware.” By context aware, researchers mean that a computer system will know enough about the driver and the vehicle’s surroundings that it can anticipate when a driver needs certain information.

For example, if your car is running out of gas, it can suggest the nearest gas station offering the lowest prices in the neighborhood and guide you there. Since it talks to your PDA when you get into the car, it also has access to your calendar. It will also notify you if your car needs a tune-up, make an appointment at your dealer and enter that appointment into your calendar.

More than 150 Carnegie Mellon engineering alumni now work at GM plants and labs worldwide.

Related Links:
Electrical and Computing Engineering Department
Ed Schlesinger
Raj Rajkumar
Dan Stancil
GM-Carnegie Mellon Collaborative Research Lab

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