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GM Patents Data Mining Method For Refining the Chevy Volt

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the data-driven-approach-get-it dept.

Transportation 113

An anonymous reader writes "A patent application published yesterday may show an important tool that GM is using to refine future models of the Volt and especially the future size of the Volt's battery. The application is directed to uploading driving habit data from a plurality of vehicles to a remote server via a telematics system (e.g., such as GM's OnStar) and then providing alternate fuel-related analysis based on different vehicle profiles (e.g., an EV with a 40-mile range). The application contemplates that this analysis may be valuable to vehicle designers or to operators for comparison purposes."

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113 comments

Wrong way to look at range. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477638)

Effective range is for what users MAY do, not what they DO do. Just because I only drive 40 miles a day 99 out 100 days doesn't mean I dont want to drive 400 miles on that 100th day.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477724)

Yes, but looking statistically at what a large segment of people actually drive may help them market vehicles more effectively.
Lets say I can buy a car for 1/2 the price but it wouldn't work for long trips. For that kind of savings I could simply rent a longer haul vehicle for such trips. You may not want to buy such a car, but if there is demand for it, there is reason to produce it.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478376)

It's a chicken and egg problem. If I know my car s good only for 400 miles, I won't schedule trips with it longer than that. Does GM ten get to say "hey, our range is enough for 95% of customers" ? (the reste being... distracted people ^^)

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479262)

I think its more an issue of finding your niche market. If only 10% car owners feel your car is suitable for them, you may have a problem. If that same 10% feel that your car is the absolute perfect fit and they wouldn't buy anything else, you've just got 1/10 cars on the road being yours. There is certainly a niche market for cars that won't take a long trip, but it doesn't mean its an impossible sale just because you "obarthelemy" don't want it. I could say the same thing about say "cargo vans" I don't need or would never buy one, but those who do need them, will buy them, so they sell very well.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

Bartles (1198017) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480566)

Or I could get a Prius for half the price of a volt, and not worry about it.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477794)

But you will very likely be driving only 40 miles on the 100th day too. It is all about probability, and in your particular case it would be something like (not exactly) a Binomial distribution.

But yeah, I understand your point, it is not trivial to take the long road trips into account. I can think of a couple of ways to handle them but the have their problems.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478182)

It's too bad that GM has blatantly lied about the Volt from the start. Google up the photos of its introduction, and the banners that say "230MPG". It is actually rated at 32 city / 36 highway, and its range is only 40 miles under optimal conditions. Running the air conditioner or driving in stop-and-go traffic lead some industry magazines to say the effective range was only about 25 miles on a charge.

The probability is that no one is going to be making all electric trips, and no one will be making electric trips who drives at highway speed.

Perhaps for puttering around town your gas usage would be reduced, but this vehicle is basically an inferior, significantly more expensive version of the Toyota Prius.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478674)

You know those claims were based off of draft EPA rules right? They didn't invent 230 MPG out of thin air.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478882)

My (and MANY others') daily commute round trip is under 25 miles, so the probability of someone making an all electric trip is 1.

Not that I would get one, because it is still way overpriced, and I'd much prefer driving something *fun* on my relatively short daily commute...

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479168)

Before we get to bogged down in excuses and obfuscation, the point is that GM, at the time they were about to beg for government bailouts, led us all to believe they were producing a breakthrough vehicle - not a low rent Prius, or something altogether inferior in energy consumption to diesel economy cars that have been available for decades.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479932)

Um.... huh?

Okay, first off, to look at the impact of a Volt, we need to first break down a driving profile. For most people, and in particular most volt customers (i.e., not a random sampling of Americans, but of people who bought it because they felt it fit their lifestyle), almost all of their trips will be on electric, and a solid majority of their miles will be on electric (note that the % of miles on gasoline will be much larger than the % of trips on gasoline, since gasoline trips are long distance). Let's say that 75% of miles are electric. In practice, this number will vary widely depending on the consumer, from ~25% or so at the low end to 100% at the upper end. The gasoline miles will likely be almost entirely highway, since you'll only burn out the electricity on long trips. So let's go with the EPA 40mpg highway number for that figure.

The impact of electricity consumption varies significantly depending on where you are in the country. This study [pnl.gov] found that, for equivalent vehicles, on our current grid, an electric drivetrain averages 27% less GHGs than gasoline, an 18% increase in PM10, a 125% increase in SOx, a 31% decrease in NOx, a 93% decrease in VOCs, and a 98% decrease in CO nationwide. Now, let's look at each of the caveats here.

1) "For equivalent vehicles". Remember that the "equivalent vehicle" to a Volt is not your average US car; your average US car doesn't get 40mpg on the highway. Compared to the average US car, the numbers are much lower.
2) "On our current grid". Our grid gets cleaner every year. Most of the new capacity being added is natural gas, followed by wind. Oil, on the other hand, gets dirtier every year as we increasingly shift to syncrude, ultra-heavy, ultra-sour, deepwater, etc.
3) "Than gasoline". A gallon of gasoline burns much cleaner than a gallon of diesel in a modern engine. Yes, a gallon of diesel in a modern diesel engine burns cleaner than a gallon of gasoline in an *old* gasoline engine, but both gasoline and diesel engines have gotten cleaner, and gasoline still significantly outpaces diesel in terms of the worst emissions. A gallon of diesel burned also releases about 15% more CO2 than a gallon of gasoline, as it is denser and contains more oil.
4) "Nationwide". By shifting from tailpipes to smokestacks, emissions are largely removed from surface level in densely populated areas to high altitude in more sparsely populated areas, where it can dilute and break down far more readily. This can have a profoundly positive impact on human health. The numbers for emissions in urban areas for, again, equivalent vehicles, current grids, becomes a 31% reduction of PM10, a 81% reduction in SOx, a 90% reduction in NOx, a ~99% reduction in VOCs, and a ~100% reduction in CO.

Factoring all of these factors together yields an exceedingly positive picture for the 75% of miles that are driven on electric. In terms of air pollution effects on human health, the Volt will be the equivalent of a ~130mpg gasoline car, and of a couple hundred mpg diesel. In terms of CO2, it'll be the equivalent of a ~65mpg gasoline car and a ~75mpg diesel. As time goes on and generation/oil sources shift, these numbers will increase on their own.

What about the simple figure of "energy" consumption? Well, that's not so easy to figure. :P Power plants vary widely in terms of efficiency. Power plants operating on kinetic energy, such as hydroelectric and wind, tend to be very efficient -- wind can exceed 50% and hydro 90%. Power plants operating on thermal energy have dramatically different efficiency variations depending on how hot their working fluid is -- as low as 10% for low-termperature geothermal and nearly 60% for top-of-the-line combined cycle NG plants. Coal averages 32% in the US; nuclear is similar. Thermal plants which make use of waste heat to offset industrial, commercial, or residental heating can achieve over 90% net system efficiency. Power lost between the plant and the vehicle is low (7.2%), a couple percent are lost in home wiring, 6-8% in the charger, 1-8% in the li-ion pack, and an average of 10-15% in the motor/inverter.

Modern gasoline engines usually peak around the 35-40% range (diesels are usually ~5% higher or more), but since internal combustion engines are inherently operated outside their ideal range and there are a variety of energy loss mechanisms, the real-world figures are much lower for both kinds of engines. For non-hybrids, the average operating efficiency is seldom over 20%. A top-notch hybrid can do over 30%, with mild hybrids coming in closer to non-hybrid vehicles than to full hybrids.

So pick your numbers, but in general, the use of electricity excels significantly from an efficiency standpoint. But again, it's sort of a red herring, since different forms of energy will inherently have different efficiency figures. What really matters is the impacts.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36480690)

Before we get to bogged down in excuses and obfuscation, the point is that GM, at the time they were about to beg for government bailouts, led us all to believe they were producing a breakthrough vehicle - not a low rent Prius, or something altogether inferior in energy consumption to diesel economy cars that have been available for decades.

Dude, you are just clueless. Please become informed. I will help.

A Prius has a larger battery than a conventional car, but still not very large at all. You can't recharge it from grid power, only from engine power and regenerative braking. The Prius battery and electric portion of the powertrain are sized to use electric power to boost power output during high peak demands (which is to say, during acceleration) and slowly refill the battery while at speed or idle. This averages out the power demand to the internal combustion engine (ICE). Because power is averaged out (and there are no peaks), the ICE can use the Atkinson combustion cycle instead of the Otto combustion cycle. Atkinson cycle engines are more efficient, but provide less power output at a given displacement. That's how a Prius increases efficiency.

The Volt is different in a simple yet fundamental way: It has a battery and electric motor sized to be a true alternate primary drivetrain, not just an energy buffer for the ICE. You can recharge the battery from grid power, saving money compared to using gasoline as the sole energy source. By making the battery large enough to have a ~40 mile range, many people are able to operate the Volt on their daily commute as a pure electric vehicle without ever needing the Volt's ICE. But if you need to take a longer trip, the ICE is there, and allows the Volt to operate in a mode similar to the Prius.

GM misled nobody about any of this, it was perfectly clear all along to anybody with 2 brain cells to rub together. Those 230mpg figures were using early EPA rules for this new class of vehicle which hadn't been finalized yet. It isn't a low-rent Prius. Nor is it inferior in energy consumption to those diesel economy cars, not unless you insist on running its battery down and never recharging it from the grid. Which would be stupid. (And yes, blah blah blah putter around town... don't buy one if you only take long trips, get over it already. There are millions of people who use cars every day, yet don't drive more than 40 miles -- or even 25 miles -- a day.)

Note that if you operate it in stupid mode, it has a rather significant weight penalty compared to those diesel economy cars, having to lug around at least 500 pounds of battery pack and electric motor. (These are substantially heavier in the Volt than in the Prius, too, simply because they have to be - battery capacity is strongly linked to weight, and as for the motor, the Volt electric motor can put out about 150hp, the Prius only about 30hp or so IIRC. Priuses can move on pure battery power, but only at low speeds and with almost no endurance.)

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479166)

My drive to the office is about 10 miles a week, everyplace I routinely go is within 5 miles or less, with the exception of 1-3 trips to the coast or road trips out of State. If I had a Volt, the vast majority of my driving on a per trip basis would be pure electric. So the 40 mile range is not an issue for me that a 200 mile range would not be, since I either drive 5 miles or 500 miles the majority of the time. The catch is two-fold for me.

First I looked at a Volt and the build quality appears to be what I've come to expect from GM; it was sloppy looking inside and out.

Second, it would save me gas money but let's face it, my fuel budget is microscopic. I don't really care about that. Maybe the new Benz Hybrid Diesel E class will suit my fancy better, at least it will be a really nice car.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478850)

> it is not trivial to take the long road trips into account

It is *kinda* trivial. ;) Back when I lived in dorms and then apartments, I kept a minivan because I had to move frequently, and needed the cargo room. Shortly after I bought a home, my van died and I was shopping for a vehicle. A week or so into the process it occurred to me that I no longer required moving capacity, so I was able to buy an ultra-compact and save buckets of money and fuel. Once a year or so if I find a piece of furniture or other large thing I need to move, and I rent a U-Haul truck.

Same logic applies to battery electrics; I make about two trips per year that are out of range of, say, a Nissan Leaf. I've run the numbers and I come out _way, waaaayy_ ahead by commuting with the Leaf and renting a Yaris or a Civic or something twice a year. A lot of communities are starting up car-sharing systems for an even more flexible and lower cost option.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477920)

For something like the Volt, with a somewhat large battery and a gas tank, the 40 miles on 99 days helps them size the battery and the 400 miles on the 1 day helps them size the tank.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (2)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478090)

Effective range is for what users MAY do, not what they DO do. Just because I only drive 40 miles a day 99 out 100 days doesn't mean I dont want to drive 400 miles on that 100th day.

Fair enough.

But are you willing to pay an extra several thousand dollars for a battery that'll get you the extra miles for that one day out of 100? Or would you be just as happy simply re-charging a few times along the way?

Does GM really need to outfit all its cars with batteries that can go 400 miles? Or can it maybe offer a model with a 200 mile battery instead?

Does GM need to focus on developing bigger batteries, because everybody winds up wanting to drive 400 miles? Or would that money be better spent on developing a quick-charge system that'll top off a battery in a few minutes, basically enabling the same kind of virtually-unlimited range that you get with a gasoline engine?

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478436)

I think the model we'll move to is electric only for the daily commute and rent something for long trips. If total electric cars can come into line with the price point of a standard fuel car and handle 99.9% of days then this will be a huge financial advantage for most users.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479192)

I think the model we'll move to is electric only for the daily commute and rent something for long trips.

Why not electric only for the routine drives and hybrid (either hydrocarbon or hydrogen) for the exceptional long road trips?

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480702)

Most of the benefits of a hybrid drive train are during starting and stopping.

If the ICE is needed to maintain speed (like on a freeway), the hybrid stuff is just extra weight.

Re:Wrong way to look at range. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479010)

So just because you travel in peaceful territory for so long and just might be happening to travel through a combat zone under enemy fire one day, you bought a Bradley APC as your car, I suppose?

Tracking us again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36477654)

So now we're openly admitting these "tools" like OnStar are completely monitoring us 100% of the time?

First it was something that only the government could turn on and eavesdrop.

Then it was something they could use to track your location but only with warrants.

Now it's collecting data all the time, and tracking not only where we go, but how much fuel we have, how much charge, the state of the accelerator pedal, etc.

Enough is enough. Rip these devices right out of your vehicle lest they be used to spy on you someday.

Re:Tracking us again? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477698)

So now we're openly admitting these "tools" like OnStar are completely monitoring us 100% of the time?

Duh? Did you somehow think otherwise?

Re:Tracking us again? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477732)

Like MSIE in Windows, they won't work without these extras installed.

I agree that it's out of hand and does not respect people (their customers) but since "everyone" is doing it, there is no escaping it. They need to be afraid of doing these things but they are not. In fact, they are actively encouraged to do it.

Re:Tracking us again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478768)

>>Like MSIE in Windows, they won't work without these extras installed.

I worked exclusively with components of this system for 9 months before getting laid off. Your statement is incorrect.

Re:Tracking us again? (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479850)

Like MSIE in Windows, they won't work without these extras installed.

I agree that it's out of hand and does not respect people (their customers) but since "everyone" is doing it, there is no escaping it. They need to be afraid of doing these things but they are not. In fact, they are actively encouraged to do it.

Actually they use it as a selling point. I remember seeing a commercial for onStar that was touting the fact that it can listen in on you all the time as a feature that is a good thing. Plus, they have used it to catch drug dealers in conversation by turning on the microphone and listening in.

Re:Tracking us again? (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478190)

At least the monitoring is optional... for now.

(Waiting for the email speeding tickets, gathered from your OnStar, payable through PayPal)

Re:Tracking us again? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479140)

Waiting for the email speeding tickets, gathered from your OnStar, payable through PayPal

Images of it will be done by Google and posted on your Facebook page.
Welcome to 1984. ... and that government(TM) of the shareholders, by the shareholders, for the shareholders, shall not perish from the earth.(c) 2011-infinity (Patent pending)

X=Y=new invention? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477658)

So sick of these patents that are nothing more then taking a few existing ideas re-configuring them and calling it whole new idea. Patents should protect revolutions in design, not evolutions.

Re:X=Y=new invention? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477850)

Yep, they already have a system for doing this on airplanes. It supplements the black boxes so that if a plane goes down in the ocean, you can get the data even if you can't find the black box. Airlines are already thinking about using the system to do real-time analysis.

All the space shots had data like this. What's new about this?

Re:X=Y=new invention? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478418)

Let's see, use nodes to accumulate data for decision support.

Not a single facet of this is patentable. Not that it should be.

Re:X=Y=new invention? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477930)

Patents should protect revolutions in design, not evolutions.

OK genius name me a few of these mystical things that aren't revolutions?

Re:X=Y=new invention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478306)

OK genius name me a few of these mystical things that aren't revolutions?

Let me refer you to almost all of the patents listed here: http://appft.uspto.gov/

Re:X=Y=new invention? (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478382)

So sick of these patents that are nothing more then taking a few existing ideas re-configuring them and calling it whole new idea. Patents should protect revolutions in design, not evolutions.

I agree. This so-called patent sounds more like a mash-up.

Re:X=Y=new invention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478888)

From your comment:

So sick of these patents

From the blurb

A patent application published yesterday

So sick of these comments thinking that every application deserves a patent without any sort of refinement. I'll can tell you first hand that's not the case
Patent examiner as A/C

So... (1)

bubulubugoth (896803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477678)

They are collecting your data generated at your expense (gas/electricity, time, car) and plan to sell it...

Is good to be an enterprise...

Data Mining.... (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477734)

Translation!

We don't want to really solve the engineering problems when dealing with electric vehicles, that costs too much.

We just want to see how you use it, and see if we can scratch something together so the profit line can provide the CEO with another mansion on the Mediterranean..

-Hack

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477766)

I need to get in on that.

I could use another mansion on the Mediterranean. (Seeing as how I have zero mansions on the Mediterranean, currently.)

Got friends? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36477848)

You need to know someone to get that job. Considering the history of GM or corporate America for that matter, talent and brains has nothing to do with getting those jobs.

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478562)

How about a sugar mama?

Just ask Bill Clinton.

I wish I had one of those as I would sit around and design embedded projects all day long, write kernel code and go to school forever.

Which, is what I would like, but I guess not really what I need. ;-)

-Hack

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477954)

WTH? are you really that stupid?
Collect data from users in the field in nearly invaluable way to make improvements to ANYTHING.

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 2 years ago | (#36481062)

Collect data from users in the field in nearly invaluable way to make improvements to ANYTHING.

There's also the "improvement' of adjusting feature lists into pricing tiers. Collecting live data is a pretty good way to get the timely feedback needed to maximize profit sooner.

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478082)

Many, many engineering problems cannot be solved without massive amounts of real-life data. GM developed test vehicles, pilot programs, etc., which gave them enough information to shape the production vehicle with an expectation that it would meet customer needs. But customer habits and usage patterns vary wildly, especially considering that this will be a driving experience a bit different than a conventional automobile.

And, yeah, if you can take a pile of data, determine that such and such component (e.g., battery pack) is over-engineered or could be made better/smaller/lighter/cheaper and in all other ways more in-line with its real-world needs, that can be worth a whole shitload to both manufacturers and consumers, and is worthy of compensation.

Data to be used for marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478196)

The data will most likely be used for marketing campaigns: "X,Z cars might have larger batteries but our user study reviled that cars only need 640WAh"

Re:Data Mining.... (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478538)

I would like to point out that the data is not engineering data, just for the MBA types so they can cut costs, not really improve the product or the technology.

As long as you have MBA types walking around, your going to get products either built with slave labor, or products that just plain suck.

But you will never get a product that pays living wages and of any quality.

It is in complete diametric opposition to the education of anyone with an MBA.

-Hack

Re:Data Mining.... (2)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478790)

I hope you are not an engineer, because if you are you should know that a big part of engineering is using resources as efficiently as possible to get the required task done.

Cognitive Dissonance (2)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477738)

So, when it comes to Slashdot entries related to patents, I see three categories:

1, Patent applications for new interfaces for things like iPhones, where the patent app gives us insight into what a company is working on,
2, Following the actions and behavior of patent trolls,
3, Reporting on (and usually condemning) the way that corporations patent everything they possibly can.

Now, I'm not a fan of the behavior represented in category 3, but you'd think that there'd be a bit more understanding of how it's an inevitably consequence of the behavior in category 2. As for category 1...that's awesome, I dig it. :) But can we get in tune with the reality that organizations *have* to patent the hell out of everything, if only to protect themselves against some dickhead patenting it himself and trying to extort them?

Re:Cognitive Dissonance (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478348)

Aren't issues two and three part of the same issue - I'll call it #4 - that the patent system is broken? I don't know who they hire, but I remember reading once that Einstein was at one time a patent clerk. Something tells me they aren't getting such smart people these days.

Re:Cognitive Dissonance (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480552)

They don't have to patent everything. Option 2 can be defended against quite nicely by publishing your ideas in an official magazine or publication, creating prior art with well established credentials and timelines.

Philips used to have their own publication especially set up for this (may even still have it), were they would just publish interesting ideas that they considered too costly to patent, but too dangerous to allow others to patent it against them. You don't need to patent something to defend, you just have to make it impossible for others to win lawsuits against you when you ignore their stupid patents.

Why not just customize? (3, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477744)

When I was a kid I watched my Dad buy a few cars. You could customize a lot of things. Some of them were technical. You could even customize your rear differential ratio. The salesman would explain that to you if you didn't know.

I wasn't asked anything like that when I bought my first new car. Then again, it wasn't an American make so perhaps the big 3 dealers still do this?

Anyway, why not just offer different batteries as an option? If I've worked the same job for the past 5 years and it's a 10 mile commute, and I think I'll be working it for the next 5 years then why should I pay for a 30 mile battery that fits the "average driver"?

Re:Why not just customize? (1)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477834)

I wasn't asked anything like that when I bought my first new car.

Customize your own car? Blasphemy! Due to being a consumer, you are assumed to be an idiot and completely technically incompetent; it's a miracle you can even figure out how to work the automatic transmission. You can't even change your own oil without voiding your warranty these days.

Re:Why not just customize? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478006)

You are complelty wrong. By law you can work on your own car.

What car doesn't allow you to change your own oil.

I'm talking about most cars;, there IS a version of a Ferrari were you're not allowed to make changes, or even keep it for long periods.

But lets just assume we are not talking about 500,000 dollars spcialty cars.

Re:Why not just customize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36480810)

You may work on your own car, and you will retain the basic warranty included with the vehicle. This is due to American law requiring that.

If you want to purchase an extended warranty over the one that will usually run out in under 3 years (or 1 year if you drive a lot) you are welcome to purchase a warranty from the dealer. The warranty specifies a maintenance schedule on your vehicle and requires your agreement that you understand that the warranty is null and void should the maintenance not be completed at the car's brand of dealership (or, worse, at that specific dealership). Hyundai does this, and I'm sure others do. Hyundai mostly sells lower priced cars.

So, just because you *can* do it legally doesn't mean you *should*.

Of course, all that bullshit, along with the retarded options available on cars (Why the fuck do I give a shit about an iPod dock? That'll be as useful as a donkey dick in 10 years!), and the options I want and can't get in most cars (Manual windows, no A/C, none of the other shit that breaks in 5 years) means I only buy used cars. Since I've learned to fix them myself, I buy them at auctions, fix them, and pocket an assload of cash. That savings means I can buy cars that are actually fun to drive (you know, V8 engines and such) because I can easily afford the gas with the money I'm saving NOT buying a GM Volt/Nissan Leaf/Toyota Prius. At current gas prices, with the amount of driving I do, at 18 mpg it would take 15 years for any of those to pay off. If gas prices TRIPLE it would still take 5 years and none of those vehicles are fun or can haul 6,000 lbs of shit with them.

I want something with reclining leather seats, that goes really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage! With cruise control! And a goddamn Blaupunkt built in. Still looking for it... build it for Gods sakes!

Re:Why not just customize? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478166)

Option lists, including final drive ratio, still exist with many options to choose from.

You won't be asked about options much. Remember, ordering options requires waiting instead of getting a vehicle off the lot. The dealer needs to clear his inventory. If you want custom, do the research.

Custom battery options are unlikely due to tooling cost.

Re:Why not just customize? (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478706)

Option lists, including final drive ratio, still exist with many options to choose from. Custom battery options are unlikely due to tooling cost.

Yes, options exist, but it's nothing like it was in the before-time, back in the day you could order all kinds of crazy drive-train options (exhaust/carburetor(s)/intake/engine/transmission/suspension).

Now it's pretty much would you like the 4 cylinder package or the 6 cylinder package? Would you like to supersize that with alloy wheels? How about a cheesy Eddie Bauer trim package?

I agree that GM is unlikely to offer us an optional battery pack, but there's no reason the people making plug-in conversions for Priii couldn't offer one for this car too.

Re:Why not just customize? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478186)

If I've worked the same job for the past 5 years and it's a 10 mile commute, and I think I'll be working it for the next 5 years then why should I pay for a 30 mile battery that fits the "average driver"?

Around here you'd do it because that '10-mile battery' probably wouldn't get you ten miles when it's 40C with the air conditioning on, or -40C with the heater on. Or at night in the rain when the lights and wipers are running and you're stuck in traffic due to an accident blocking the road.

Simple fact is there's no such thing as a '10 mile battery' or a '30 mile battery' and the range can be halved or worse in bad circumstances.

Re:Why not just customize? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478622)

Customizing requires a build-to-order model, as opposed to a build-to-plan model. The difference between those makes a very large difference on how you can run your business. If you have a build-to-plan model you can run your factories at a more or less consistent pace. If you find you have created too much inventory you can offer buying incentives to reduce your inventory (while supplies last!), or you can halt or slow production for a fixed period of time. If you have a build-to-order model you must wait until you have an actual customer order to complete the build. This creates huge peaks and valleys in demand on your factories and workforce. Furthermore, any built-up inventory (partially built assemblies) are taking up space at the factory, and you don't have a way to move them quickly (if you offer incentives you wind up increasing the demand on your factory and workforce at the same time you are reducing your income). In addition, not having the product available at the dealer removes any impulse buying opportunity.

Options are still available, but they are generally grouped into 'trim packages', which can be built to plan.

mining and refining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36477802)

Mining and refining, what are we talking about here?

Does Lodsys know? (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477844)

The application is directed to uploading driving habit data from a plurality of vehicles to a remote server via a telematics system...

Sounds an awful lot like a unit of a commodity storing information locally about its use and then uploading to a central system. I would love to see Lodsys sue GM for patent infringement. Please please please.

Kind of intrusive, but useful (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477902)

The Chevy Volt inherently has a complex use cycle. It can be plugged in for slow charge, fast charged, or fueled. Heating and air conditioning use matters a lot. So do hills. Info about the use cycle is needed to figure out the tradeoffs. Would adding 50% more battery capacity be a win or a lose? What about if battery prices dropped 20%?

The Volt's software notices if the gasoline engine isn't needed for 6 weeks or so, and prompts the driver to run the engine briefly, so it gets warmed up and rotated. If there's almost no fuel use in a year, it prompts you to run the engine and add some fresh gasoline (there's a shelf life problem). How many drivers hit those limits? Nobody knows yet.

Re:Kind of intrusive, but useful (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478266)

Modern gasoline stores badly.

Additives like STA-BIL (my preference) are advisable for stored or "intermittent use" engines. I ignore the STA-BIL directions usually pour a full bottle into my tank. Less for small engines, motorcycles, etc.

It works. I left a Bronco II sit for nearly four years in my yard, yet it fired up fine with only a bit of priming.

Re:Kind of intrusive, but useful (1)

Slutticus (1237534) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478340)

Useful, but I wonder if drivers have the option of opting out of being tracked. GM should offer an opt-out, but also offer an incentive for drivers to opt-in. That way, you raise awareness and transparency to what they are doing plus most people would probably opt-in for a reasonable incentive (like first scheduled maintenance is free or something like that...)

Re:Kind of intrusive, but useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36479622)

If they show you what they are sending to GM, and it doesn't have any traceable information, then people might be more willing to share.
If it links in with GPS or your VIN, then people won't want to share. If people can't see what kind of stuff is being sent, then it feels like Big Brother is watching.

Obvious? (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#36477918)

Is obviousness (to anyone "skilled in the art") not a consideration in the granting of patents anymore? It certainly seems that way sometimes...

Re:Obvious? (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478130)

That's just what I was thinking. This idea is obvious to me, but I'm "skilled in the art" of coming up with ideas that connect disparate things. Heck, most patents are obvious. The things worth patenting are novel, revolutionary ideas like Tesla's 3-phase power system.

Re:Obvious? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479104)

Did you actually read the patent? If not, write down what the 'obvious' answer is to this problem "A method and system for determining comparative performance of an alternative fuel vehicle, such as an electric or hybrid vehicle, based on actual use of an existing gasoline or diesel fuel vehicle." Then read the patent, and compare each and every claim and method with your list, and see if they are EXACTLY the same.

Obvious does not mean that having read the patent it is obvious that it will work. Obvious means that "anyone" skilled in the art would come up with exactly the same solution. The criteria is NOT that one single person could have come up with the exact same implementation idea, it is that ANYONE WOULD come up the exact same implementation, because it is the ONLY solution.

Re:Obvious? (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479786)

Won't comment on this particular application, but no: "obvious" does not mean that anyone skilled in the art would come up with exactly the same list of claims. If that were the case, the no patent would be enforceable, because all you'd have to do is introduce some trivial variance to an existing patent and it could still be deemed novel.

Re:Obvious? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479772)

Repeat after me: This is not a patent. This is not a patent. This is not a patent.

This is a patent application. It hasn't been examined yet. It doesn't grant any exclusive rights to the applicant. The claimed invention may very well be obvious - time will tell what the examiner is able to dig up.

Prior art: F1 (2)

spectro (80839) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478116)

I used to watch Formula One races in the 80s and they had in-car computers sending wireless telemetry to the pits.

As for alternative fuel, I believe in these times most racing cars were using Jet fuel, ethanol or other crap like that.

Re:Prior art: F1 (1)

tweak13 (1171627) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480640)

As for alternative fuel, I believe in these times most racing cars were using Jet fuel, ethanol or other crap like that.

Unless the cars were using diesel engines, I'm pretty sure jet fuel wasn't involved. I'm fairly sure F1 has generally used some form of high octane gasoline for racing fuel. Alcohol was more popular with other racing series. Methanol was a much more popular alcohol choice back then, replaced almost entirely by ethanol in recent years.

Great (2)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478134)

Great. Another overly broad patent to stifle innovation. Now anyone with an electric or alternative fuel vehicle who wants to transmit performance metrics (or even so much as graph them, see claim 6), will have to pay a license. In 2011 it should be obvious to anyone skilled in the art, any art whatsoever, that it is a good idea to transmit data from any device across a data network, any network, to a data processing device of any kind in order to glean useful information. Maybe in 1950 it was a novel idea, but not today.

Dear USPTO (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478168)

STOP GIVING OUT OBVIOUS PATENTS

seriously. The level of intellect required for some of the patents they give out to be nonobvious just makes the American government look dumber and dumber.

Using data to improve a product... well it's never been done before with tracking services for an automobile. how novel!

Re:Dear USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478968)

Dear Slashdot user:

The above is an application, not a patent.

We are not responsible for the status in which applications are filed. You, by not reading even the blurb in the story are looking dumber and dumber.

-- *a USPTO employee*

Re:Dear USPTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36479266)

Dear Moron,

      The application is not "use data to improve a product". It is "use these exact 20 claims to improve this specific product". If you're too fucking dumb to know the difference, please refrain from commenting.

Luckily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478220)

Luckily nobody else makes a chevy volt.

Doesn't Tesla already do this? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478230)

Tesla also keeps a log of driving behavior for the same reasons don't they? So, prior-art?

http://www.mybitbox.com/articles/tesla-roadster-log-parsing/ [mybitbox.com]

Re:Doesn't Tesla already do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478420)

Except the remote upload part.

Re:Doesn't Tesla already do this? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479410)

Except for the whole thing about being under the control of the owner, collecting data on existing (non-electric) vehicles, performing a simulation of those driving habits in an alternative fuel vehicle, and presenting the resulting potential savings to the user, and also sending to the manufacturer, yeah it is exactly the same thing.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478388)

What a stupid patent, Formula I has been doing that for decades.

So when they build an EV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478484)

EV with a 40-mile range

So when they actually attempt to build an EV they'll know what size battery to utilize. The Volt is a hybrid.

oh its valuable allright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36478604)

thats why people need to charge these companies fees for the data they want, if its valuable there wont be a problem in negotiating a deal

now where do i send the invoice

Nissan Leaf records data like this (1)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478658)

Looks like GM filed for this patent 12/2009. Anyone have any ideas how long Nissan has been doing this and/or planning on doing this?

Copyrighted info (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#36478740)

My driving "performance" is a copyrighted work. 'Nuff said.

Re:Copyrighted info (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36479088)

My driving "performance" is a copyrighted work. 'Nuff said.

I believe your driving performance is raw data, which is not copyrightable.

Re:Copyrighted info (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480054)

That depends. If it's a "performance", then it can be copyrighted. The telemetry from that driving "performance", however, is just data (facts) and is not.

Re:Copyrighted info (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480684)

So the raw audio telemetry collected from a singing performance is "raw data," is certainly factual, and cannot be copyrighted? I believe the entire recording industry would disagree with you.

As for my driving being a "performance," my passengers certainly think so. They often shout adulations such as "My god, you're going to get us all killed!"

Bolt from the Volt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36479054)

The Volt is garbage.. the biggest buyer, the US government; with your tax dollars of course.

To all you greenies; where are they going to throw out all the dead batteries!?! Just wondering, because batteries are sooo much better for the planet than oil.

Re:Bolt from the Volt (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#36480022)

I found it on teh Google! [gigaom.com]

(Oh, and here's what Tesla does [teslamotors.com] ). FYI: conventional li-ion cells (the type Tesla uses) are only mildly toxic, and the stable chemistries (like the type GM and pretty much everyone unconnected to Tesla uses) are nontoxic.

Not innovative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36480394)

A lot of patents are just regurgitated ideas from other fields. They are not good for the public and should be done away with. I mean come on this isn't a new idea. Software has been working like this for ages. Just think feed back and analysis of usage patterns and crash dump data that is sent home for analysis.

The general public needs to wake up and understand we are all getting screwed by paying patent taxes on the things we buy for ideas like these being passed off as new.

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