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Ford's New Radar Technology Based On Open Source

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-hands-prepare-for-ramming-speed dept.

Transportation 259

zakkie writes "Ford is releasing new safety-enhancing radar equipment for its 2010 Taurus sedan. The radar itself is based on F22 fighter radar, but interestingly, it's claimed that the software is built from open source. What that may mean, in the vague, waffling context of the article, is unclear, but it's interesting simply because they've gone to the effort of stating it in those words. Clearly, 'open source' is being thought of outside the IT world as a good thing, and that surely is itself a good thing. The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.'"

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259 comments

Detection (4, Funny)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405417)

The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.

...as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

Re:Detection (3, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405451)

...as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

Is there any point in the modern world to having a radar detector? I've always been under the impression that a lot of law enforcement agencies are now using LIDAR, which is virtually impossible to detect until your car is being painted with it (i.e: it's too late to slow down). Even the ones that use radar generally turn it on and off with a trigger instead of leaving it running all the time -- which further reduces your odds of detecting it before it hits your vehicle.

I've always wondered if the things are actually worth the cost but most of the online literature about them seems to be put out by the manufacturers -- hardly a neutral unbiased source.

Lidar sucks (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405547)

What they can achieve with radar is constant 360 degree monitoring. The local police has gray vans that look like ordinary vans. They park them somewhere near busy intersection. The systems in the car track the movement of every car around the van, and automatically take images of the targets going too fast. Basically there are no police officers sitting inside, they just leave the car there and send you the speeding tickets a few days from the incident.

Also, radars have improved in the past years. Most of the new systems have advancements from military radars - they hop frequerencies and whisper instead of yelling. The amount of energy they put out has dropped to 100th of what they used to do. At the same time the quality of the radar systems have improved. The old ones used to have quite high margin of error whereas these new systems are accurate to centimeter/hours.

Lidar is hard to spot but in overall they suck because they can't do all the coolest tricks.

Re:Detection (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405573)

Sounds good to me - nicely Darwinian for dealing with speeding idiots before they could hurt someone else!

"Hyurk, I'll drive at 100mph, no radar in sight ... oh shit, blue lights."

Re:Detection (2, Informative)

lgbr (700550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405831)

Is there any point in the modern world to having a radar detector? I've always been under the impression that a lot of law enforcement agencies are now using LIDAR, which is virtually impossible to detect until your car is being painted with it (i.e: it's too late to slow down). Even the ones that use radar generally turn it on and off with a trigger instead of leaving it running all the time -- which further reduces your odds of detecting it before it hits your vehicle.

While there have been a huge number of advances in radar technology, the radar detector technology keeps up with it well. The two are made by the same company, after all. LIDAR is definitely not ideal for so many situations. To use LIDAR, a police officer must be stationary and actually outside of his cruiser. LIDAR is also defeatable because laser jammers are legal in most states [guysoflidar.com]. Finally, there are entire states that do not use LIDAR [thenewspaper.com]. This is why radar is still much more common. I do know that radar detectors are still very useful because I have and use one myself and it has saved me from a ticket in a number of situations. It would be my guess that the radar in use by the Ford Taurus is very different and distinguishable from that in use by the police.

Re:Detection (3, Informative)

macwhiz (134202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405861)

LIDAR requires that the officer be stationary, have their window rolled down, be parked such that they are shooting LIDAR as close to parallel with the flow of traffic as possible, and not have any weather conditions that would obstruct the laser (or make life really miserable for the officer, as the window is down). The officer has to actively aim the device at each car he wishes to clock.

On the New York State Thruway, most of the traffic enforcement still uses Ka-band radar. The radar units are permanently installed on the cars and don't require exposure to the elements. They can provide accurate readings while the car is in motion, allowing the officer to patrol while still checking speed. Many cars have dual fore-and-aft antennas so they can clock cars ahead of and behind them. They can park the car and leave the radar on, not only slowing down traffic that has radar detectors, but letting them work on other things while waiting for the radar's "too fast" alarm to go off.

I'm not surprised NYS Troopers don't use LIDAR as often -- it's much more of a hassle for them to use.

As for detecting LIDAR: If you have a dark-colored car without a lot of reflective chrome or a front license plate, and you leave your headlights on, it is possible to detect LIDAR before it locks on to you, at least some of the time. Car and Driver tested this several years ago and found that, while it's difficult to beat LIDAR, it's not impossible.

As for "instant-on" radar: Yes, it exists, but there's that convenience issue again. Rarely do I ever see officers using it on the highway. Should one wish to speed while using their radar detector, the safe thing is to only do so when there's at least a few cars visible ahead of you. That way, your detector will be set off when the officer uses their "instant-on" to clock the cars ahead of you.

Re:Detection (-1, Offtopic)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405871)

> ..as well as annoying the crap out of any driver with a radar detector you happen to be driving behind ;-)

Whatever moron modded the parent down ought to have their mod points taken away and get their weiner slapped. Clearly the poster was going for a laugh (and succeeded). Modding him/her down just discourages people from posting.

Somebody fix this, please.

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406427)

Shut up already, a single mod will be outmodded quickly and his mod point is wasted, which is pretty much what you want. No need to fix, the system is working. So quit your bitching already.

Those who oppose the use of force are forever at the mercy of those who don't.
Those who don't oppose the excessive use of force will eventually be at the mercy of those who get fed up with them.
Not as pithy, but far more valuable.

Re:Detection (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406165)

The purpose of the radar device is to help 'avoid crashes by sounding an alarm and flashing red lights when the driver gets too close to another car.

Hell with that. Can they invent a car that pulls over, stops, kills the engine, and locks the wheels/transmission and ignition for 15 minutes when the driver gets too close to another car? Preferably with an alarm that cannot easily be shut off. That'd make me feel safer on the roads. No, really, the whole problem with driving is that the nuisances which endanger others often happen with impunity. If by "too close to another car" they mean "tailgaters" then this would be better than they deserve. If by that phrase they mean people who don't know how to safely perform a lane change, those are worse than tailgaters.

But does it trigger speed radar detectors? (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405427)

And hence cause idiots to keep jamming the breaks when you get near them...

Re:But does it trigger speed radar detectors? (3, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405583)

"Brakes" ... the word you wanted is "brakes".

Re:But does it trigger speed radar detectors? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405603)

Maybe, or maybe it was a pun on the results of idiots suddenly slowing down everytime you get close behind them.

Re:But does it trigger speed radar detectors? (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405945)

Sometimes I do that on purpose to piss off idiots who tailgate. I switch on the extrabright rear fog lights, too.

Re:But does it trigger speed radar detectors? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405803)

Well, the operative word there is "idiots" and has nothing to do with radar.

What might happen is the people with all these radar speed detectors, who are very likely to be the group that does the most speeding anyway, will find that they're constantly being targeted and either slow down to to the legal speed limit or get so distracted that they drive into a ditch instead. Either way I don't see that as a bad thing.

So give me the source (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405429)

I'll take the source to both the F22 radar and the Taurus radar.

Thanks.

GPLv2 Section 3b:

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange

Re:So give me the source (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405555)

Open Source != GPL

Re:So give me the source (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405727)

Considering that they haven't said what the software they used in particular was it may not be a safe bet to assume that it's GPLv2 licensed. What if they decided to use, say, the OpenBSD kernel? That's a piece of open-source software which has no source redistribution requirements.

Re:So give me the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405755)

Open source doesn't mean GPL you religious tool.

Re:So give me the source (1, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405859)

Even assuming they used GPLv2, They only have to do that if they make modifications and don't include the source with the software.

Tailgate alarm (2, Informative)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405439)

Based on my own driving experience, it seems the trucks need the tailgate alarm more than the sedans!

I'm comforted by the fact that my small car has a very short stopping distance, but it's certainly mitigated when I'm going to get run over by an oversized Hot Wheels in the event of a quick stop.

Re:Tailgate alarm (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405577)

In a panic braking situation, assuming the brakes are actually working, there's very little difference in stopping distance between vehicles.

Re:Tailgate alarm (4, Informative)

Lord Byron Eee PC (1579911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405779)

Good point: The amount of energy that needs to be dissapated is linear in mass and quadratic in velocity (KE = mv^2/2). The maximum static friction force is also linear in mass (F_fric = mu*m*g). The work (or energy) is the force times distance. Setting these equations equal to each other, you find that: d = v^2 / (2*mu*g) Stopping distance is independent of the mass of the vehicle. Speed, being quadratic, is a huge factor. And mu, which depends on the tires and the road is also important. (So is g, of course, but you stand little chance of modifying gravity.) This implies that decreasing your speed from 75mph to 65mph decreases your stopping distance by about 25%.

Re:Tailgate alarm (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406429)

Why the hell do you have a score of zero? Mods, fix this.

Back in junior high the cops came and did a presentation on road safety. One of them, an accident investigator, told us that a little car stops in about the same distance as a fully loaded semi (before ABS they used to work out how fast you were going by the length of the skid marks, no correction needed for type of vehicle). I didn't believe him. Then he worked out the math on the board just as you've done.

I guess a cop doing physics on the board stuck in my mind since I still remember it more than a decade later.

Re:Tailgate alarm (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405903)

I drive a Yaris, which (according to Motor Week) does 60-0 in 120 feet. An F-150 does the same in 150 feet.

If that truck is tailgating the car and the car stops in a hurry, they would certainly collide.

Re:Tailgate alarm (2, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406395)

The braking distance isn't the problem during tailgating. It is the reaction time of the tailgater. Even if the tailgating car has a significantly better stopping time, it wont make a difference if the driver does not hit the breaks within a second or two.

Re:Tailgate alarm (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406399)

Those numbers are meaningless without error bars. Just like Mythbusters, I really doubt Motor Week did multiple trials and calculated a p-value. In that kind of test a twenty percent error isn't unreasonable, and certainly not worth betting your life on.

So: the F-150 shouldn't tailgate. Nor should the Yaris.

I hope it's written in Python or similar (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405445)

That way, if my radar doesn't detect I'm closing in on the car ahead I can fix the source code without a recompile and link.

I like getting ripped off (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405449)

I hope that insurance companies can keep taking my money, only to only cover a small and shrinking part of my medical bills.

It's like I pay to be ripped off.

Please don't change this Obama. I don't want anything getting between me and my insurance company's shareholders and my doctor.

so where is the open project (1)

globalsnake (1345027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405511)

I want the hw and opensource software for the radar system. I think its cool just to mess with but am i the only one that is concerned that this multi billion dollar plane has opensource radar meaning it is probably now easy to jam or detect the plane just by the radar signature. I saw an order for a few of these cars to russia, china, iran, venezuela, north korea. Yeah and people complained that they wore trying to shoot down the F22 project, very stealthy.

Re:so where is the open project (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406501)

The software is apparently open source. I really doubt the hardware is. Military radar is a closely guarded secret. Also, the article implies that some of the software is open source. The the article is to be believed, it sounds like probably only the return differentiation part is open. You're not going to use that to detect an F22.

Useless in the city (-1, Troll)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405549)

In the real word you come within about a foot of other vehicles traveling 75 mph as you all bob and weave among the several lanes.

If you DON'T do this, you will be stuck at each light and could never make a turn without riding the lane for a half mile.

Re:Useless in the city (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405689)

In the real world people who drive like that cause the accidents that clog freeways and streets for hours. Leave for your destination 5 minutes earlier. Don't drive like an ass.

Is it "green" too? (2, Insightful)

donutello (88309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405571)

Sounds a lot like buzzword bingo to me.

Re:Is it "green" too? (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405807)

I can't tell if it's just observational bias because I started reading slashdot and got a job in the tech industry... but it sure does seem to be a big buzz word lately. Then again, most of my "civilian" friends without tech jobs or nerdy habits still have no clue what the hell it means.

17mpg? (4, Insightful)

Manfre (631065) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405587)

"The Taurus 2010 will average 17mpg in the city and 25mpg on the motorway, on a par with the competition"

Is this sedan competing with SUVs and trucks?

Re:17mpg? (1)

HazMat 79 (1481233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405675)

I thhink I remember reading in Car & Driver that the way mpg gets figured out is changing to more accurately reflect real world numbers. If that isn't true then, yes this car really does help enforce the American automotive industries stereotypes.

Re:17mpg? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405757)

I didn't know there were that bad cars around... I just drove some 500km with a big Mercedes Benz, and used Google to translate the mileage to mpg... 55 miles per gallon.

What on earth is that Taurus doing with all that gasoline? I mean seriously?

Re:17mpg? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405851)

First off, US fuel economy numbers were made "more accurate," but in the real world, the numbers are now amazingly low, except for hybrids.

Second, your regional Google site probably translated to imperial gallons, not US gallons, which are smaller.

Third, just because it was a "big Mercedes-Benz" doesn't mean that it didn't have a 4-cylinder and a manual, although I am assuming you're in Europe. Here in the US, a car the size of the Taurus would have a V6 and an automatic by default - and in this case, it's a 3.5 L V6.

Re:17mpg? (1)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405707)

Yeah, seriously, what a joke. My 1992 Honda Accord (with a touch less than 187,000 miles) is rated 18 (city) / 26 (highway) and averages around 22. No wonder why American automakers are going down the drain. They can add all these gizmos, but they can never replace my breakthrough "paying attention to the road at all times." All the (safety-related) alphabet soup I need are ABS, SRS, TCS, and possibly TPMS.

Re:17mpg? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405781)

A car with that kind of mileage is actually saleable in the US? Wow. I get a real world 50-62mpg out of mine, and it's no even one of the new 'green' cars.

Re:17mpg? (3, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405865)

Imperial or US gallons?

And, how big is that car? The Taurus is approaching the size of a Mercedes S-class, and has a 3.5 L V6.

Also, US fuel economy estimates for everything but hybrids are lower than real world fuel economy.

Re:17mpg? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406191)

I have a 1982 Mercedes with a 3 liter turbo diesel and no fancy engine management that gets superior mileage. It is an S-class. While Chrysler products can draw from some Mercedes technology, the best Ford can summon up (for a production type vehicle) is Volvo. Chrysler products are only using E class suspension design anyway. Granted, my 1982 S-Class has antiquated design in many ways, but then again the rear suspension is more than superficially similar to what Porsche used in the 944 all the way up to about 1989 and it's hard to find fault with the front at all. While this thing has vastly more power, it will not have the finesse to put it on the street, and I will still be stuck behind people on my local fun highway (Hopland Grade, CA HWY 175 from Lakeport to Hopland or vice versa) who are driving them while I'm wrapped in leather and probably-now-extinct hardwood :)

P.S. The old SHOs were unreliable bitches. Pretty good power but not much potential since they were wound so tight. Meanwhile, the old Tauruses, especially with V6 engines, were some of the most terrible vehicles to work on ever produced by man. There's more engine compartment room in almost anything including my 1993 Subaru Impreza, or a 1992 Honda Accord, or any of the dozens of other cars I've had my hands in. I hope Ford has done a substantially better job this time around, but I wouldn't go near it.

Re:17mpg? (1)

Cloudwalking (1210878) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406255)

Fuel economy estimates are LOWER than real world fuel economy? Really? I don't think so. I recently saw a window sticker that said (in fine print) the highway fuel economy was achieved at 37 mph. You'd be arrested for driving 37 on the highway. Fuel economy estimates are good ideas that have just turned into more false marketing.

Re:17mpg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406339)

So .. don't you think it would be easier to compare if they were in the same units? Guess who is getting screwed.

Re:17mpg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406489)

Also, US fuel economy estimates for everything but hybrids are lower than real world fuel economy.

BAH HAH HAH HAH no.

Fuel economy estimates in the US have always been high, sometimes to the point of up to half. The difference does vary by company though -- some companies are shadier about these figures than others. The last car I bought -- ford escape hybrid -- was mpg actually accurate. Speaking of which, it's a fucking SUV and it gets 30 mpg. 17 mpg for a car is pathetic.

Re:17mpg? (2, Informative)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405839)

It's a 3.5L V6...what did you expect? The bi-turbo model has a great power-to-mileage ratio. It has the power and torque of a 4-4.5L V8 but the mileage of V6. For reference my 2001 Volkswagen Jetta (Bora, in EUâ"it's the sedan Golf basically) with a naturally aspirated 2.8L VR6 gets 20/24 mpg and has 175HP and about 180 lb.-ft. whereas the The Taurus SHO has .7L more displacement but gets 365HP/350 lb.-feet, at 17/25 mpg. That's very efficient considering the amount of power it's producing.

Quite honestly, the cost of the car versus a comparable BMW 5-series is actually really great. According to a few reviews I've read the SHO handles quite well for it's size and weight, with lots of great gadgets.

I'll admit those are still ugly numbers though, anything south of 30/35 for a daily driver is awful, particularly for a sedan.

Re:17mpg? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406043)

I'll admit those are still ugly numbers though, anything south of 30/35 for a daily driver is awful, particularly for a sedan.

It's pathetic! My '82 MBZ 300SD won't get up and go like this thing will, but it will seat four adults in posh comfort (if you add a fifth it sucks, heh heh) and it gets around 28 mpg on the freeway at good speeds, which I assure you this Ford monstrosity will not. It manages this without any intelligent engine management (the engine is entirely mechanical; the "run switch" is a vacuum switch on the back of the ignition switch.) A 1989 Nissan 180SX K's (J-spec) with the CA18DET gets better than 30 MPG on the freeway and while it has less power and torque will probably murderize this stupid Ford pothole, SHO 'nuff. 2010 VW TDIs (to once again include a Golf, thank goodness) come with 2 liter engines and plenty of pep, and at least another 10 mpg!

Random Sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405923)

From my random sample test [kbb.com], indeed the Taurus is on par.
(In case the link doesn't work:)
Ford Taurus 2010 (4d SE Sedan): 18 city / 28 highway.
Acura RDX 2010 (4d Sport) : 19 city / 24 highway.
Mazda MAZDA6 2010 (4d Sport) : 20 city / 29 highway.
Honda Accord 2009 (2d Coupe) : 22 city / 30 highway.

[NOTE: There were no Honda 2010 models to compare]

So not really. Fords claims have held for my test.

Re:17mpg? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406443)

My friends Volkswagen gets similar numbers. It has the 280HP V6. Depends on the car, engine, transmission and year.

Cause more accidents than it prevents? (4, Insightful)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405593)

Is it just me or does this sound like it might create more accidents than it prevents?

Sometimes I recognize that I need to do a correction (speed up, slow down, watch out for some other car driving recklessly, etc.) and my wife recognizes that need at the same time and makes a loud gasp. At those moments I find myself more distracted and occasionally make a stupid mistake (like pressing the brake harder than I need to). I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405705)

Then the light bars and sirens on the cop cars should make them shit themselves and crash immediately. The thing this system has going for it is that you'd be used to it past the first few times it goes off.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406197)

I've seen way too many cars unsafely slow down when they spot a cop car. Sometimes they weren't even speeding but their gut reaction is "Uh oh...I'd better slow down". People will be going 5 miles over the speed limit and I'll see off in the distance a trail of cars suddenly hit their brakes and go to 5 miles under the speed limit until they get past the cop car. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it has caused accidents on occasion.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405789)

Is it just me or does this sound like it might create more accidents than it prevents? Sometimes I recognize that I need to do a correction (speed up, slow down, watch out for some other car driving recklessly, etc.) and my wife recognizes that need at the same time and makes a loud gasp. At those moments I find myself more distracted and occasionally make a stupid mistake (like pressing the brake harder than I need to). I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.

Actually it will cause more accidents than it prevents, especially someone going in to a "blind panic" and running off the side of a road down a ditch because they do not know what to do. The question is, how much more control and sensible judgement do you want to have taken away from you? IMHO it is your duty to "pay attention" not just for yourself but others. If you cannot grasp the concept of being "alert" then you might as well be dead.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

AtomicSnarl (549626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405813)

I remember a early 1990s (?) story where a national bus company installed a front bumper radar to enforce a safe following distance for their drivers. It would activate the brakes automatically when the driver got too close to the car ahead based on the speed. The problem was other drivers cutting in front of the bus would make the system stomp on the brakes, thus dumping the people in the bus and causing tailgaters to rear end the vehicle.

Needless to say, it was removed pretty quickly...

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405921)

Yes, that was dumb. But it would have been a lot smarter if it just sounded an alarm to alert the driver.

Or if instead of imposing breaking, it prevented a stopped bus from accelerating if there was something directly in front of it.

The problem inherent is not the safety sensor, but the 'action' wired to the safety sensor.

It's a bad idea for a safety device to FORCE a vehicle to do something that might be unsafe in some situations (such as slam the breaks), the decision should be left to the driver if possible.

At least until the technology is a lot better and can determine the speed of the vehicle ahead, whether there's a vehicle near the rear, and whether there's anyone standing up the on the bus that might be injured, and act more intelligently...

e.g. forced slowing to minimize the probability damage incurred to the vehicle ahead, the vehicle behind, and the bus itself, based on physics modelling of expected collision based on measurements taken.

That is, until onboard computers are smart enough to actually drive the vehicle, they shouldn't be allowed to preempt the operator and make decisions that are likely to be bad in any common situation.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405979)

I remember a early 1990s (?) story where a national bus company installed a front bumper radar to enforce a safe following distance for their drivers. It would activate the brakes automatically when the driver got too close to the car ahead based on the speed. The problem was other drivers cutting in front of the bus would make the system stomp on the brakes, thus dumping the people in the bus and causing tailgaters to rear end the vehicle.

Which is actually the fault of the tailgaters... Before that there was the Goodyear Grand Prix S. Advertised as safer because of decreasing stopping distance, especially of wet roads. At least until it was pointed out that having a shorter stopping distance than most other cars is carries it's own set of dangers.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406409)

It doesnt matter who's fault it was. The end result was that more people got hurt WITH the feature than without.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405847)

People on the road may drive less safely with such a device due to Risk compensation [wikipedia.org].

They perceive driving as being less risky, because they have an electronic device to 'save' them.

There's also a possibility that when it malfunctions, it could cause accidents.

People could come to rely on the device too much and become dangerous when they're driving their spouse's older car that doesn't have the device.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406005)

There's also a possibility that when it malfunctions, it could cause accidents.

What's going to happen when you have many cars fitted with radar in close proximity?

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405897)

It's also just one more thing that can break, putting computers and printed circuit boards into cars has decreased their lifespan and made them harder to fix. It's just one more thing that can break, one more thing that only the authorized dealer can repair. If you want people to be safer while driving, ban cellphones and make them take defensive driving classes to renew their license every five years. Gadgets are just one more crutch to rely on while you put on mascara in the rearview mirror.

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406243)

Oh man, passengers who can't be cool should just be left home, or made to walk by constitutional law or something. That is so true. You're trying to focus and they're caught up in some wacky half-aborted attempt to notify you of a situation you saw coming before they even realized where they were.

On the other hand, a radar system would be able to let you know well in advance that something was coming. It would be able to alert you to conditions that you're not capable of detecting, at least not as fast as it can. And there's no reason it has to be loud. It just plays a soft little tone to let you know something is happening, with the importance perhaps dictated by tempo.

I wonder how much control the driver has over the throttle during self-parking. I presume they have complete control over the brake...

I very much want an in-car sensor package that will give me relative speeds of surrounding vehicles, perhaps with reality overlay. Any day now...

Re:Cause more accidents than it prevents? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406341)

I was making a right turn on a red a couple years ago, and my sister loudly gasps "Oh my God!" I nearly drove into a parked car looking around for what I missed and almost got rear ended by the car turning right behind me. Turns out she was reacting to something utterly unrelated to the road. I nearly banned her permanently from being a passenger when I'm driving.

A solution without a problem! (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406463)

I worry that a loud noise and lights may make drivers panic and make poor decisions in response.

Absofreakinglutely correct.

TFA discusses blind spots - good point. How about a simple set of CCDs and an in-dash display for the blind spots?

But the real problem here is Ford and the insurance gang. From TFA:

"The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US put out a report last year saying if every vehicle in the US were equipped with this forward collision warning system, we'd save about 7,000 lives a year," Mr Kozak told BBC News.

Wow. Geez - and just how did they arrive at that fact? By comparison to other similarly equipped vehicles? No, I don't think so.

The problem here is sociological as well as financial. They're trying to "help" us. Just as other draconian measures in society are trying to help us.

Want to save more than 7k lives/yr on the road? Penalize for cell-phoning instead of driving. Penalize for putting on make-up while driving. Do NOT ever have a statistic or a newspaper report explaining how someone has gotten their third time in jail for a DWI - by targeting the real problems.

But do NOT give already lazy drivers comfort in their laziness and tell them that tech makes laziness OK - and that's exactly what this does.

Next step with be our financial penalty - if the insurance kiddies think they have a study that this saves lives, one of them will start offering a discount if your vehicle has it. Give it 2 or 3 years and then it will become a surcharge for any vehicle that does not have it. Oh - and add in the costs for the new studies, the new data tracking and the accountancy.

Insurance companies do give discounts on anything - they do not manufacture a hard product. Instead, as a soft product supplier, they simply shift costs (prices) between various consuming groups. And there won't be a reduction of any sort, given that this increases their cost to provide their product (insurance coverage).

I guess I'll close with this bit of mock-humor: we want stealth technology on our roads? Really?

Correlation-causation anyone? (2, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405629)

Anyone? How about a non sequitur then? No? Fruitcake?

Clearly, 'open source' is being thought of outside the IT world as a good thing, and that surely is itself a good thing.

You know what else is open source? Knives. Used to stab people to death. And many people find that a good thing. Surely it must be.

Also... Nowhere in the text does it say that "the software is built from open source". No. They say:

"...The F22 radar technology which they took and built upon was all open source.... "We then added our own Ford algorithms to determine whether or not objects are a 'vehicle target'."

From what I gather - someone in the "chain of reporting", whether it is the BBC reporter or people at Ford has no clue what the term "open source" actually means (which no part of a clearly still partially classified F-22 Raptor isn't), and is probably confusing it with the term "public domain" - which radar technology is.

Come on. What is next?
A submission of a cake recipe cause it is open source? Look... you can add your own ingredients and develop it further.
How about an open source walk?
You know... as opposed to those covered by government grants [youtube.com] and thereby being partially owned by the government.

Re:Correlation-causation anyone? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405711)

You know what else is open source? Knives. Used to stab people to death. And many people find that a good thing. Surely it must be.

It's not like knives don't have many other uses. I mean, I can use them to cook, put them on a motor and cut the lawn, open boxes.....the possibilities are endless!

Re:Correlation-causation anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406423)

It's not like knives don't have many other uses. I mean, I can use them to cook, put them on a motor and cut the lawn, open boxes.....the possibilities are endless!

The original poster is from the U.K. where they've outlawed all of that and people have to mow their lawns with spoons.

UPS! SORRY... Meant to say "is" (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405717)

(which no part of government owned technology used in a clearly still partially classified F-22 Raptor is)

OK, OK... So I've edited it a little more than just "is".

Re:Correlation-causation anyone? (4, Informative)

dwillden (521345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405777)

The problem with the submission is that the submitter does not realize that there is another definition of Open Source. One that is used in referring to possibly classified information or equipment. And this definition has been around much longer than the current IT realm definition.

What Open source in this context refers to isn't the IT/GPL version of Open source it means it was developed from unclassified research and publications.

So what it is saying is that Ford has not put classified technology into these cars, not that they used free "as in beer" software.

Re:Correlation-causation anyone? (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405857)

The broader application of the term Open Source outside of software frustrates me. Open Source seems to be equated with transparency, public domain, or even ownership. People have been rebuilding their own cars for years without that being called Open Source, but give it a few more years and someone will hit on the revolutionary idea of Open Source automobiles. It *is* nice that the idea is gaining some popularity, but I don't think that most people have the slightest idea what it means. Not that I blame them really.

Re:Correlation-causation anyone? (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406037)

A submission of a cake recipe cause it is open source? Look... you can add your own ingredients and develop it further.

What about OpenCola?

Useless gadget (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405687)

With the way most people drive, I see this as a completely useless gadget that will end up being turned off, disconnected, or raising complaints from drivers of cars using it. People habitually tailgate, pass in an unsafe manner, etc etc etc. The damned thing would be going off constantly, and the average driver is going to assume it's broken instead of actually questioning their own driving habits.

New Safety Features I Actually Want! (4, Interesting)

lgbr (700550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405723)

I think we're finally seeing some of the safety features that consumers actually want, rather than safety features that the government mandates. Radar guided cruise control and braking will save a lot of lives and a lot of money by almost eliminating rear end collisions.

Another feature I can't wait to see in the average car is brake lights that flash during emergency braking. The biggest nuisance for me in my 30 mile urban freeway commute is people who get in front of me and use their brakes simply to control their speed. It means I have to concentrate really hard on to figure out how hard someone is braking. A car with flashing brake lights (you're already seeing this on many Mercedes and European cars) will flash its brake lights rapidly under heavy braking so that the driver in the car behind knows to do the same.

It's good ideas like these that save a lot of lives and earn revenue for the auto companies that implement them, like Ford has here.

Re:New Safety Features I Actually Want! (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405881)

Radar guided cruise control and braking will save a lot of lives and a lot of money by almost eliminating rear end collisions.

How it will detect ice, snow, standing water/hydroplaning, and sand/gravel on the road is a mystery. Road conditions account for all my past close calls, especially unknown / unpredictable conditions. I know there are people whom don't pay attention to their driving, but I'm guessing that is an extremely small fraction of the overall driving population... I would suspect it'll save approximately zero lives and cause a net loss of money.

Re:New Safety Features I Actually Want! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406121)

How it will detect ice, snow, standing water/hydroplaning, and sand/gravel on the road is a mystery.

LIDAR is the answer to all of these.

Modern ABS/TC can already detect sand/gravel and will lock up the wheels for a moment to build some up if you're driving in it, when needed.

I know there are people whom don't pay attention to their driving, but I'm guessing that is an extremely small fraction of the overall driving population...

HAHAHAHA

I hope very much you aren't driving in the USA. If you are, you are clearly not paying attention to the other drivers, thus you are unqualified to drive, and please stay the hell off the roads, you are a danger to yourself and others. If you are assuming this based on what it's like driving in some other country, consider that most people in the world might not be so well-controlled. Only in a few extremely population-dense centers is it actually difficult to get a license... And unfortunately, none of those places are in my country of residence :(

Re:New Safety Features I Actually Want! (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406203)

How it will detect ice, snow,

IR sensors/cameras: ice/(different kinds of) snow/water/hail are distinguishable

standing water/hydroplaning,

turn rate sensors/accelereometers/steering wheel angle: The on-board computer already
has a pretty good picture of how the car should behave, used for all those assistive
technologies. Detecting hydroplaning using this data is feasible, and I believe already
done by Mercedes (and probably by others too).

sand/gravel on the road is a mystery.

Microphones. Seriously, by listening to the sound the tyres make on the ground,
quite bit can be inferred about what this ground is.

I'm not saying the system mentioned does all this - but there already is an awful
lot of sensing equipment in a modern car, and it will not take too long for cars to
have complete situational "awareness". Heck, I'm sure even today's high-end cars
already are better at it than some of the drivers out there.

Re:New Safety Features I Actually Want! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406125)

Agreed. I've been doing this for years. If I'm on a highway (>=55MPH speed limit), and I have to break below the speed limit (and especially if the traffic was moving above the speed limit and comes to a stop or almost stop with low visibility, what do I do?

Hit that little button the dash called "Hazard Lights." Would be nice to have it automated though.
  (On a side not, you really are a hazard moving well below the speed limit or stopped on a highway, as people will be used to going fast.)

Re:New Safety Features I Actually Want! (1)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406287)

I'm sorry, but that's absolute bullshit. Just because YOU might have radar that thinks for you, how likely is it that the person behind you with the 25 year-old pickup truck has it as well? He might react faster than your computer controlled brakes, but I doubt it. Unless the radar and computer can assess the road situation at least a quarter mile away and apply the brakes slowly over time when you fail to, it's going to be useless if you're moving more than 50 mph, and certainly won't "eliminate rear end collisions". Unless you're completely distracted by the bosomy redhead in the halter top by the side of the road, nearly all rear end collisions are caused because the car in front of you brakes too quickly for you to react. A quick-acting radar system MIGHT stop you in time, but simple physics says that you doomed yourself when you decided to tailgate the guy in front you. The only safety feature I want in new cars is some way to teach people how to actually drive. Your post reads like an ad from Ford.

Fewer crashes, heh (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405883)

Maybe their thinking went like this:

Windows: crashes often, closed source
Linux: doesn't crash, open source
Our car: doesn't crash, so its firmware needs to be associated with, or run, Linux, or the for most people vague concept of open source

How So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406061)

"Clearly, 'open source' is being thought of outside the IT world as a good thing"

Because Ford is outside the IT world? Perhaps at somepoint they will hire some engineers and buy some computers and become part of the IT world, maybe get a few cool robots like honda...

I'm all for open source but the plugs get tiring....

Anti-tailgate thingy for celliots? (0, Offtopic)

Chuqmystr (126045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406127)

So most of the tailgaters I encounter here in California are either impatient asses or what I unaffectionately call celliots. Nothing like driving a Civic down the freeway and having a few tons of a Fraud Excrusion 18 passenger SUV Ultra crawl up your ass at 80+mph because the pilot of said living room on wheels is too busy yapping/texting away. How dare we interrupt their conversations with, you know, driving. I digress. Anyway, why not take this thing a step further? I say add in some RF spectrum analysis and a retractable cartoon-esque metal hand in the headliner above the driver. Once a proximity alert is detected RF analysis is done to check for local mobile spectrum use. If the signal doesn't fluctuate enough in say 5 seconds to indicate a drop in talking or of the call altogether then the previously mentioned paw O' reckoning drops down, taps the driver on the shoulder and if they continue to ignore it slaps them silly and shakes an accusing finger at them. RF jamming tech could work well too but the FCC will have no part of that and well, its just not as cool as looking in the rearview to see the hand dole out a little justice.

So why is this in the Taurus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406163)

I'd love it if, every time some jackass in a Ford started tailgating, his vehicle started yelling at him. But for that to happen we need this feature in the Ford Super Duty, not the Taurus. Funny enough, when someone's car purchase isn't overcompensating for anything, usually it seems that their driving style isn't either.

I'm an F-22 engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406275)

... and I suspect this is just PR guy/mediot talk. The only thing this consumer-level gizmo has in common with the Raptor is, they both use Electronically Scanned Array (ESA) radars. Unless Ford bought the parts from Northrop Grumman (doubtful, given NG's notorious pricing, bureaucracy, and unwillingness to play well with others), this box doesn't have anything to do with the jet.

I can categorically state that Ford is not using NG's F-22 radar software. Even the prime contractor (Lockheed) doesn't have access to all the innards of those modules.

Target locked. Clear to fire... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406363)

From TFA:

"F22 fighter jets use this advanced radar that can read down the road and identify everything from trees to people,"

Dear god, I hope our (now canceled) fleet of Raptors aren't deployed actually on the nation's highways.

"We then added our own Ford algorithms to determine whether or not objects are a 'vehicle target'.

Not the word choice I'd use, but if the next phrase is "target locked, clear to fire", well that would certainly help with collision avoidance and traffic congestion.

Re:Target locked. Clear to fire... (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406483)

The Raptors were not cancelled just permission to purchase more than the 180 or so that have already been paid for.

Wonder how it deals with rude lane-changers (1)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406465)

It's common in heavy urban traffic to have a rude lane-changer pull over a car length or two in front of you. It would be interesting to see how they deal with it, but not interesting at all if that involves slamming on the brakes or flashing lights and sirens. As a rule, the correct response is to simply ease off and give them room, as you mentally turn into the bug from MIB, tear off both car roofs and dismember them limb from limb, all the while steering adroitly with your two middle legs.
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