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Using Brain Waves Can Shorten Braking Distance

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the using-your-brain-full-stop-can-too dept.

Transportation 90

cheros writes "A BBC article reports on work at the Berlin Institute of technology where brainwaves are used to trigger brakes. Apparently this cuts braking distance by more than 3m (10ft), but I have reservations about skull electrodes in any circumstances. I'll stick with radar, thanks."

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Just what we need a high tech system that can fail (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#36954234)

Just what we need a high tech system that can fail THAT IS PART of BRAKES systems. The last thing you want is a BSOD when the you want to stop now.............

Re:Just what we need a high tech system that can f (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954594)

Who says that this system has to be purely a break by wire system? You can still have a mechanical system; hydrolic assisted with a computer that can trigger the system.

Re:Just what we need a high tech system that can f (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 3 years ago | (#36954756)

I need a neuroport like I need a hole in my head!

umm....
It IS a hole in your head.

Re:Just what we need a high tech system that can f (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 3 years ago | (#36955088)

Hey, as long as they run a wire to my pleasure center at the same time..... //runs off to build a droud

Re:Just what we need a high tech system that can f (1)

danlip (737336) | about 3 years ago | (#36955592)

That solves the problem of a system failure that prevents the brakes from triggering. What about a failure that accidentally triggers the brakes? Unintentionally slamming on the brakes at 100 km/h could be very bad. TFA mentions this possibility, and says "more work needs to be done on avoiding false alarms."

Re:Just what we need a high tech system that can f (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955210)

Just what we need a high tech system that can fail THAT IS PART of BRAKES systems.

So sayeth Joe_Dragon as he gets in his ABS-equipped car and drives away without a second thought....

In other news (0)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 3 years ago | (#36954236)

Using brain waves increases the odds of a head-tail collision.

Obligitory Starwars Reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954238)

Use the for... aw nevermind.

Gabrielle Giffords votes for debt limit deal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954246)

Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona made a surprise return to Washington Monday to vote in favor of an agreement to raise the debt limit.

"The #Capitol looks beautiful and I am honored to be at work tonight," she said in a Tweet.

Lawmakers offered Giffords a standing ovation on the House floor when she showed up for the vote. After it was completed, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Giffords' name inspires the love and admiration of Americans and called the lawmaker the "personification of courage."

"Thank you, Gabby," Pelosi added. Giffords, her hair short, waved and thanked members as they applauded the sentiment.

In an email to the Tucson Weekly, Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Giffords "insisted on participating" in the vote.

Re:Gabrielle Giffords votes for debt limit deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954304)

funny

Berlin Institute of Technology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954258)

Not really the right name:

The Technische Universität Berlin (TUB or TU Berlin) is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary (a German Institut often refers to a university department only).[7]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Institute_of_Technology

Too much potential for false alarm (4, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954336)

Seems like way too much potential for false alarm - what happens when I'm driving along and thinking "Crap, I forgot to STOP for milk" or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so"

I bet they can get nearly the same result by using motion sensors to detect the motion of the driver's foot off the gas pedal and over to the brakes - as soon as it sees the driver let up on the gas, it can prime the brakes and get ready for a panic stop based on the driver's next move - maybe instead of saving 12 feet of stopping distance they can only save 6 feet, but in a panic stop from 65mph, 6 feet (or even 12 feet) is rarely the different between a safe stop and an injury collision.

But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36954392)

Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push. My (admittedly limited) understanding of the brain is that it's easier to pick up on motor control signals than thoughts anyway. Added bonus - parents teaching their kids to drive could wear the sensors too, so that now when you slam on the imaginary passenger-side brake, the car actually stops!

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954562)

Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push. My (admittedly limited) understanding of the brain is that it's easier to pick up on motor control signals than thoughts anyway. Added bonus - parents teaching their kids to drive could wear the sensors too, so that now when you slam on the imaginary passenger-side brake, the car actually stops!

I didn't say (or even think) that it was triggered off mentally thinking the word stop - that wouldn't work anyway since I rarely tell myself to "stop" when I see a road hazard.

But as I said: or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so

If I see someone about to get crunched by a car I may involuntarily cringe and mentally imagine stopping, thus triggering the system despite having no intention to stop.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36954586)

Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so. It's not like your muscles have minds of their own and think "oh, that silly brain! he's just messing with me!" Your conscious mind may consider sending the signals, but the signals are not actually sent - if they are, then your muscles would move.

Your brain either sends the signal to the muscles or it does not. That's the signal they should be looking for.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954706)

Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so. It's not like your muscles have minds of their own and think "oh, that silly brain! he's just messing with me!" Your conscious mind may consider sending the signals, but the signals are not actually sent - if they are, then your muscles would move.

Your brain either sends the signal to the muscles or it does not. That's the signal they should be looking for.

Then why do they say that it reads "intentions"? If all they were doing is keying off muscle movement they wouldn't need to read brain waves, they'd just use sensors on the muscles.

From TFA:

Lead investigator Benjamin Blankertz added: "It's quite easily explained by the fact that we can tap the driver's intention at the source of the build up of intention in the brain.

"It's a longer process, from the very first upcoming cognitive processes and intention building, until finally the muscles start the movement."

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36954804)

Because thought isn't instantaneous, and there is bound to be a delay from when your mind starts the "move a muscle" signal and when that signal actually travels down your spine and to the muscles.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36955058)

Because thought isn't instantaneous, and there is bound to be a delay from when your mind starts the "move a muscle" signal and when that signal actually travels down your spine and to the muscles.

Muscle position signals travel around 100m/sec [hypertextbook.com] , so should take only around 20 msec to travel from the brain to the feet. These scientists are claiming to save 130msec from the reaction time, so they aren't just detecting muscle motion nerve impulses.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 3 years ago | (#36955762)

There's also the physical time involved in moving your foot left and then pressing the brake. I expect that's dominant.

Additionally, your reference gives a range of thought signal speeds.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 years ago | (#36955402)

Your mind does not go through the process of applying the brakes without your actually doing so.

Nonsense! Haven't you ever ridden as a passenger with someone who drives faster than you normally do?

My left foot get tired from trying to hit the brakes constantly, even from the passenger seat, without ever moving....

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955490)

yeah but why is your LEFT foot tired?

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

chromas (1085949) | about 3 years ago | (#36956192)

Maybe he's European and/or left-handed.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

elsJake (1129889) | about 3 years ago | (#36957490)

Or maybe he doesn't have a clutch.
Euro cars have clutch on left , break+gas on right.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 3 years ago | (#36960290)

yeah but why is your LEFT foot tired?

Apparently many people who have never driven a manual still use both feet. Makes sense in a way - two feet and two pedals.

However, if I try to do that I can't brake smoothly at all. It seems strange to me, because you need to control the clutch precisely to shift smoothly, but my brain just isn't trained to control my left foot in the manner necessary for braking. Mind you, I've only tried it a few times because it's kind of dangerous, my driving skills are suddenly reduced to those of a complete novice :)

I wonder how it works when one of the automatic drivers tries a shift stick - their right foot isn't trained for braking either, and you frequently need to clutch and brake at the same time.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36956542)

Your mind does go through much of the process of applying the brakes without actually doing so. Mental imagery of movement involves much of the same circuitry as movement itself. Even observing movements can activate the motor system as far down as M1, which is where the neurons actually leave the brain to connect to the muscles in the spinal cord.

The electrical potentials involved in executing a movement reflect a complex sequence events from choosing the movement to performing, invoking the high level motor programs for that movement, and eventually sending signals down to individual muscles. Depending on where these electrodes are placed, and "when" in the motor sequence they are listening, they may be more or less susceptible to this sort of "false alarm". That said, people can probably learn to use a mechanism like this effectively, as they do with neurofeedback.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36957538)

Why trigger off the brain signal corresponding to the word "stop"? Perhaps they can trigger it off the brain signal that tells your foot to move left and push.

Perhaps they should simply trigger it proportionally by sphincter clench.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#36960344)

Garrison is that you?

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36960380)

Perhaps they should simply trigger it proportionally by sphincter clench.

No mod points left, but this needs a few funny mods :)

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Ichijo (607641) | about 3 years ago | (#36954424)

But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

If the trucker driver isn't tailgating [wikipedia.org] (driving on a road too close to the vehicle in front, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible), it won't be a problem.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954536)

But an unexpected panic stop at 65mph with a 40 ton 18 wheeler right behind you could be fatal - even if he has this magic thought-control system, the laws of physics guarantee that your small car will stop faster than his heavy truck.

If the trucker driver isn't tailgating [wikipedia.org] (driving on a road too close to the vehicle in front, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible), it won't be a problem.

Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone.

Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 3 years ago | (#36954632)

Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone. Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

Calling this technology unsafe because of a few bad drivers is like calling airbags unsafe because of a few airbag fatalities.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954696)

Yes, and if people would always stop at stop signs, and always yield right of way, and never drive too fast for conditions, and not drive while impaired, and not drive while distracted and do everything else a driver should do, driving would be much much safer for everyone. Of course, in the real world, people don't drive like that.

Calling this technology unsafe because of a few bad drivers is like calling airbags unsafe because of a few airbag fatalities.

A few bad drivers? Have you ever driven on a freeway in the USA? Near any large city? Imagine what would happen if you suddenly jammed on the brakes in heavy traffic -- that's what would happen in a false alarm from this system.

I can tell you what happens because I've witnessed a 5 car accident caused by a deer on the road and one driver panic stopped, got rear ended and ended up in the neighboring lane were he got t-boned - one driver ended up going to the hospital. The deer was fine. Fortunately I was on the other side of the road and wasn't involved.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | about 3 years ago | (#36955160)

My problem with this technology is that I think the delay between when the brain says "PANIC STOP" and the time it takes to get the foot to the brake peddle gives many drivers the time needed decide against the panic stop and opt for a more controlled action instead. I was just in one of those situations today on a multi lane expressway. I was in one of the left lanes when a truck pulling a goosneck construction trailer two lanes right of me and less than a hundred feet ahead had a tire blow out and quickly started drifting my direction, once I saw the rate of this drift, and know he was not about to jack knife I was able to change the panic stop to a series of pulsing the brakes to warn other drivers behind me, and drop back far enough to give him time to move right.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 3 years ago | (#36955800)

I doubt it. I'd imagine that they pick up the signal once it was too late to change your mind. The article mentions the point of new return several times. At that point, you're pressing the brake; there's no stopping that and changing your mind.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955220)

No offense, but it sounds like you witnessed 5 fucking idiots tailgating. What if it was a kid instead of a deer?

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36955410)

No offense, but it sounds like you witnessed 5 fucking idiots tailgating. What if it was a kid instead of a deer?

I think there's no debate that people are terrible drivers (40,000 people die in auto accidents annually in the USA), but I don't see this technology making the roads any safer - it still relies on the human to recognize the threat and decide to brake.

Since the deer in this particular case walked (or rather ran) away without a scratch, if it were a kid instead of a deer, then I'd guess that the same thing would have happened, except that some parent would have some explaining to do to say why their child was in the middle of a rural interstate highway.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

dr2chase (653338) | about 3 years ago | (#36954814)

You propose this as a reason for not adopting this technology, but it looks like it could just as easily apply to cars in general.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954998)

You propose this as a reason for not adopting this technology, but it looks like it could just as easily apply to cars in general.

No, I'm saying that the risk-reward benefit doesn't seem to be there. One intended panic stop can erase the benefit of a dozen cars having a slightly reduced stopping distance.

There's an obvious risk-reward benefit for driving - car assisted mobility is extremely valuable.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 3 years ago | (#36954578)

Conversely, if the truck driver IS tailgating, your car will not have had significant time to decelerate, meaning the impact velocity will be relatively small. A collision will occur, but assuming the impact does not upset your car's balance and cause it to lose rear traction, it will be fairly minor.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 years ago | (#36955756)

Either that, or the truck will just drive over your car.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | about 3 years ago | (#36954426)

That's Not How It Works! ... I don't know but i'd imagine the brain gives off signals requiring simultaneous activation of locamator, fear, and decisions areas to indicate an attempt. I don't imagine their looking for something as general as "oh shit". DNRTFA

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#36954582)

Did you even read my post?

I didn't say (or even think) that it was triggered off mentally thinking the word stop - that wouldn't work anyway since I rarely tell myself to "stop" when I see a road hazard.

But as I said: or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so

If I see someone about to get crunched by a car I may involuntarily cringe and mentally imagine stopping, maybe even clenching my leg muscles, thus triggering the system despite having no intention to stop.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 3 years ago | (#36955828)

I don't get why you assume that this system triggers on your oh shit reflex rather than you actually deciding to stop.

Clenching your leg muscles, mentally imagining stopping -- that's what the GP was referring to when he said "oh shit".

I mean, maybe it's hard to detect the right response but in principle it should be perfectly possible to get no false positives (other than the case where you totally wanted to hit the brakes but it turns out that your feet were obstructed, eg. a child had grabbed your shoelace).

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (3, Interesting)

yodleboy (982200) | about 3 years ago | (#36955152)

Yeah, the sensor solution works pretty well. I had a Mercedes Benz a few years ago that was able to detect a 'panic stop' situation and would apply the brakes much harder and faster than normally. I tried a lot of times to fool it, but the only times it fired were real panic stops. The difference in stopping time/distance was pretty startling. Once at around 50 mph there was an accident ahead of me and i slammed on the brakes. I stopped so abruptly, it felt like the back of the car was going to come off the ground and keep on going. that would have been funny, a 4 wheel luxury endo. personally, i'd like thought controlled wipers/lights/signals/radio. Hell maybe even shifting. That would be cool.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 3 years ago | (#36960418)

I wonder how it can differentiate a "panic" stop from a regular one.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36961958)

You could just watch for a fast and heavy boot on the brake but you could also watch for the tires locking up.

If you do extreme braking manually you want take the tires to where they're just starting to slip, and then back off, and then on: "pump the brakes", which ABS does for you now. If you exceed that braking threshold, you lock your tires, which means you've blown your braking opportunity and the computer should take over and do it right.

Sounds like a great system for my wife but I'd want to be able to turn it off for track day.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

yodleboy (982200) | about 3 years ago | (#36962984)

google brake assist. here's one description of the system MB uses.

How Does Brake Assist Work?

"Slamming on the brakes sends a signal to the brake assist system, which senses the speed and pressure applied to the brake pedal. Emergency indicated, maximum clamping power is directed to the calipers and brake pistons as the Anti Lock Brake System (ABS) pumps the brake pedal. This maximum braking, while maintaining control stops the car as much as 45% faster than an equivalent vehicle without brake assist."

What if Brake Assist is Not Needed?

Mukilteo Mercedes Brake Assist is driver adaptive; learning your driving patterns and habits. This means the system knows the difference between an AHHHHHHHHHHHH braking moment and braking for traffic. Mercedes first offered this system in selected models in 1996; making brake assist standard equipment in all vehicles in 1998.

for us massholes... (1)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | about 3 years ago | (#36955742)

When that ***hole in front of you is going the ****in speed limit, like the ****off that he probably, definitely is... you can ride his *** better, knowing you have an extra 10 feet of stop distance over him...
Fucking Yankees fan...

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about 3 years ago | (#36956120)

Well, the article itself points out that the technology is useless for driving, since it is based on EEG readings (with 64 leads!) and EEGs only work if you keep still. I once spent an evening fucking around with a 5-lead EEG hooked up to my head (it was part of some silly "neurofeedback" apparatus that I borrowed from a clinic) so I can attest to this personally. If I made a sudden movement, or even furrowed my brow the wrong way, I would get all kinds of crazy artifacts that completely swamped the actual signal. Good luck distinguishing those artifacts from the "stop" signal.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36956160)

a 40 ton 18 wheeler needs 294 feet to stop. at 60Mph. So, I was driving them slow, and even slower when danger was near. Recogntioin of danger is about 75 feet ( 3/4 of a sec), reaction time is about the same (3/4) of a second, then (1/2) of a second for brake lag, and in 2 seconds before you start to stop...you have travled 132 feet. Slow that down to 35Mph, and its a whole lot shorter. ( in 2 years of driving I _NEVER_ made a panic stop from 65... or 55... or 45... only 2~3 Mph. Once, and only once did I make some smoke at 15 Mph when a driver cut in front of me.

  2 feet can be life or death. I was always comfortable with only inches, but missing every time. just being a gentleman and a professional driver.

Big rigs, at least the professionals, never get into a panic stop at 62.5Mph. You take your time, plan ahead, and only have to hustle once in a rare while.

Give them a break. They are good people.

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#36958054)

You hit on the problem, but the real problem is those times when I see something and start to move my foot for an emergency brake, but than abort the move before I get to the brake because the potential danger has not materialized. An example of where that has happened, I was traveling on an interstate early in the morning, I saw a deer that was facing the roadway start and it looked as if it would jump out into the path of my car. As a result I lifted my foot off of the accelerator and started to move it to the brake. Before I got my foot to the brake, the deer had turned and darted away from the road. The system described in this article would have slammed on my brakes because that was what I was in the process of doing. However, because I was doing it with my foot, the situation changed before I got my foot to the brake and I aborted the action.
The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of "reaction time" accidents occur because the driver was travelling too fast for how far ahead they could recognize a potential danger (whether that was because of conditions or the amount of attention they were paying). Most of those drivers would have been traveling even faster if they had this sort of device. That is, the driver thought they could recognize a potential problem sooner than they actually could, if their reaction time had been reduced, they would have increased their speed to compensate for the additional time they had to react.

Depending what car you drive... (1)

Big Smirk (692056) | about 3 years ago | (#36958630)

A Prius with its rock hard tires takes about 130 ft to stop from 60mph.
A corvette about 100ft. Save 30 ft by choosing the right car :)

Re:Too much potential for false alarm (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | about 3 years ago | (#36960032)

Seems like way too much potential for false alarm - what happens when I'm driving along and thinking "Crap, I forgot to STOP for milk" or I see someone across the street about to get hit by a car and I think "That car's going to hit him, he better STOP! And my mind goes through the thought process of applying the brakes even though I don't do so"

If they were able to trigger on arbitrary words in your thoughts I'd suggest that they forget the whole braking thing and make a text input system instead. Somehow I don't believe they can do that yet :)

However, the article agrees with you in that they are worried about false alarms. They also state that similar technology is in use in the area of prosthetics, wheel chair and computer control. /me goes off to read about how people control artificial limbs [howstuffworks.com] . Fascinating stuff.

Cheaper and safer alternative (3, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | about 3 years ago | (#36954346)

Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds. Who cares about reducing optimal human reaction-time. You might reduce the best-case reaction time from 300ms to 200ms, but you still have 0.5-1s of decision making before reaction-time kicks in, and then another 1-2s while the car breaks.
Saving 100ms in leg movement doesn't seem very important, when the real risk is how long it takes for the brain to raise the alarm and decide on the correct action, and then the actual breaking which still takes a long time.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (1)

webdog314 (960286) | about 3 years ago | (#36954538)

Seriously. I mean why not skip the electrodes and simply DRIVE SLOWER.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (3, Funny)

makubesu (1910402) | about 3 years ago | (#36954940)

Because the faster I drive, the sooner I get home, and the less time I spend drunk on the road. Come on man, use your reason!

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (1)

dohzer (867770) | about 3 years ago | (#36954626)

And while you're at it, keep a two second distance from every obstacle, including the unpredictable ones that come out of nowhere, such as pedestrians and falling trees.
Oh, wait....

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (4, Insightful)

Skidborg (1585365) | about 3 years ago | (#36954636)

The distance between cars may not matter if the problem is something else entirely suddenly dashing into the street. Wildlife is a real issue in some parts of the world.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about 3 years ago | (#36954828)

Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds.

2 seconds is the absolute bare minimum distance you need to maintain. 3 seconds is recommended here in Oz because so many factors affect stopping distance. Your reaction time is going to be between 1.5 and 3 seconds alone depending on fatigue and alertness. Very few drivers will be capable of fully applying the brakes in under 1.5 seconds whilst a distracted driver will rarely be able to react in under 3 seconds.

Saving 100ms in leg movement doesn't seem very important, when the real risk is how long it takes for the brain to raise the alarm and decide on the correct action, and then the actual breaking which still takes a long time.

True,

Stopping distance is reaction distance + braking distance. Reaction distance is always at full speed (say 60 KM/h) whilst braking distance is how long it takes your car to stop.

Reaction distance at 50 KM/h is 20.8 metres, at 60 KM/h is 25 metres and at 70 KM/h it's 29.1 meters. this is the distance travelled before even engaging the brakes.

To increase road safety, you want to drive slower and have more room with the vehicle in front of you. Unfortunately if you leave a wide enough a gap between you and the vehicle in front of you in too many cities some moron will try to take up that space cutting a 4 or 5 second gap down to a 1 second gap.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955194)

This is of course the smart option - although there are plenty of nutjobs out there who think that your 2 second gap should be filled with about 6 cars. One other technique to cut down stopping distance (although it won't work every time - but what does?) is to hover your foot over the brake pedal without making actual contact if you feel that the brake pedal is the one you are likely to use next.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | about 3 years ago | (#36956182)

One other technique to cut down stopping distance (although it won't work every time - but what does?) is to hover your foot over the brake pedal without making actual contact if you feel that the brake pedal is the one you are likely to use next.

Whether you drive stick or auto, you can hover the left foot over the brake in such situations, unless you're using that foot to clutch. This DOES take some practice though, or you're more likely than not to stomp on the brake as if it was the clutch, which is probably not what you had in mind.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (2)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#36955460)

Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds.

This is a great idea in theory. But in practice, most of time I open up a space larger than 2 sec between me and the car in front, someone pulls into it. Driving is a collaborative effort between you and the people around you. Unfortunately, this means that actual following distance is dictated by the person who believes in a shorter "safe following distance", not longer. In fact it's sometimes dictated by idiots who think a space barely big enough to parallel park into is big enough for a lane change.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955782)

In fact it's sometimes dictated by idiots who think a space barely big enough to parallel park into is big enough for a lane change.

Its certainly big enough, since you approach it from a much shallower angle!

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955656)

indeed. my car beeps when I don't lock my seat belt... on a recent trip to europe, my rental car beeped whenever I gone +10 over speed limit... no reason why it can't beep if it sees a car ahead of it by less-than-2 seconds. Sorta an annoying thing that would nudge you towards being a safer driver.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36958700)

Doesn't really work. The government here builds about one lane per 2500 cars/hour. If I take more than 1.2 of a second, I'm stealing that space from someone else.

I'm not sure if market forces would help, either. I don't think a corporate highway would be able to convince drivers to pay for double the amount of lanes, so that there is sufficient average distance between cars.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36959208)

This is precisely why I am an advocate of removing the human factor in driving situations. With an automated system like intelligent cruise control etc the machine can recognize a situation, plan a response, act verify response was correct and correct as needed 15-100 times while the human is just beginning to go "OH ...." and long before they could move their big clumsy foot from one pedal to another. They cost a little more but you should save that in insurance premiums.

Re:Cheaper and safer alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36959796)

Keep a distance between cars of at least 2 seconds. Who cares about reducing optimal human reaction-time. You might reduce the best-case reaction time from 300ms to 200ms, but you still have 0.5-1s of decision making before reaction-time kicks in, and then another 1-2s while the car breaks.

Well, hoepefully the car wouldn't break. I mean, if the brakes break, then there's no guarantee that braking with your broken brakes will slow you down at all.

Seriously, though, in urban environments, keeping a 2 second gap is just impossible. People will just keep cutting in front of you to fill the gap.

Driving While Elderly: This doesn't help sometimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36961398)

Old people. This doesn't work for old people. I was recently following an SUV from a safe distance while in the fast lane of an interstate. There was significant congestion ahead and the cars in our lane were completely stopped. I could see it around the SUV and consequently slowed down. The old man driving the SUV just didn't stop. He had all the time in the world to do an ordinary stop. Even more time to do an emergency stop. He just didn't slow down and rammed the cars in front of him around 50 MPH. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured, but it was a four car accident with very damaged vehicles. I stopped well short of the accident.

The guy's only offense was Driving While Elderly (why can't this be a real offense?). Reaction time wasn't an issue. He just spaced out or something. I tried talking to him but he was too in shock to say anything useful.

The only thing that would help some elderly people is a braking system triggered by sensors. Some high end cars have this technology now and I think it should be mandatory for seniors. If they can't afford it, I don't care. I don't want them to kill anyone else.

brain waves (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36954576)

They'd have to look up from their texting, eating, reading, shaving, or make-up applying in order for their brain to trigger the breaking.
Want to reduce traffic "accidents" by 90%? Install cameras pointing at the drivers. Instead of paying welfare, pay minimum wage for people to review footage. Revoke licenses based on repeat offenses by the same person.

Seriously, there were more than 5.5 million car accidents in the United States in 2009. Nearly 31,000 were fatal, and more than 2 million people were injured. If people stopped the above activities while driving, that number would likely drop by 90% or more. The program would quickly pay for itself in reduced insurance, hospitalizations, other medical costs, fire rescue hours, police response hours, court cases, etc.

If you are one of the people who had an "accident" while engaging in one of the above activities, you didn't have an "accident". You were a reckless driver who killed or injured yourself or someone else. It's called reckless driving, and it kills people. In 2009, 2 million people were injured and 31,000 died, most due to reckless driving.

Re:brain waves (1)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | about 3 years ago | (#36955284)

Just no. People are only human. They make mistakes (yes, bad decisions can be considered 'mistakes'). Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do every day, but we still choose to do it. When I get in my car and drive on the highway, I'm putting people in danger. I could be distracted at exactly the right moment and miss a deer that walked out, or I could have forgotten to replace my tires and have a blowout, etc. Now, I'm usually a very safe driver, but shit happens. When I get on the road, I accept that other people are causing me danger, and they accept that I am causing them danger. If you don't accept this, don't drive. There's no way to make it 100% safe, and monitoring people with a camera while they are in their own cars to make sure they don't fuck up is not acceptable. Just don't cause excessive amounts of danger.

Re:brain waves (1)

alan.briolat (903558) | about 3 years ago | (#36957308)

This reminds me of the maxim I usually apply: all driving situations are at most 2 mistakes away from serious danger. Somebody stepping out and you not anticipating it, somebody lane changing without indicating and you not noticing the telltale signs, somebody braking excessively hard and you not keeping enough distance to start with. The best you can do is to make sure you don't make your half of the mistakes.

Re:brain waves (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 3 years ago | (#36960478)

That's a very insightful way of looking at it. The other thing that my mother taught me was to always assume that the other driver is lying. They're not really going to turn right before they get to you, they ARE going to pass you and cut you off with no signal, etc. It sounds pessimistic, but it's actually somewhat relaxing for freeway driving. I will see people come up behind me (going much faster than most others), watch them zoom around me, and think, "yep, he's going to cut me off... I'll just back off on the gas a little so he can do that more safely."

In contrast I've been a passenger with people who seem both surprised and outraged by this behavior. I just see city driving as a meatspace extension of the anonymous behavior theory acticulated by Penny Arcade. Drivers are effectively anonymous to other drivers, and so behave selfishly and often rudely. I try not to let it surprise me.

That's pretty much my attitude too (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 3 years ago | (#36960816)

I always assume the worst about other drivers, so when they do something stupid I'm not surprised, pissed off, or dead.

Tried it, it works great! (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 3 years ago | (#36954608)

With one caveat -- you have to think in Russian.

Re:Tried it, it works great! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 3 years ago | (#36955620)

good joke.

but I missed it first time thru since I browse with opera.

Re:Tried it, it works great! (1)

samjam (256347) | about 3 years ago | (#36956908)

even better joke!

Won't work for the drivers who most need it. (2)

John Hasler (414242) | about 3 years ago | (#36955100)

n/t

Re:Won't work for the drivers who most need it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36959366)

I am sure the technology is based on an adrenaline rush when a person is in an emergency situation and not based on the thought to stop. That makes two types of people this is won't work for. The people that drive fast that really shouldn't (tailgate, talk on the phone, etc) and the people that drive fast that take precaution (leave extra time in front of them and pay attention to where every driver is on the road). The former, they probably wont be aware that they are in a dangerous situation and by that time the technology will not work but the later it could increase the chances of an accident. There are some cases people have to make a move to avoid situations and when you know where every car is you can make this decision very quickly. In some of these situations simply breaking will not do and changes lanes is the safest move. The driver may need to speed up to stay in front of someone riding the blind spot. If the car hits the breaks then the person who decided to change lanes would be slammed between two cars.

brain? what is brain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955398)

If this the case, then, you can expect the government to go full speed ahead with no business as usual.

One flaw: (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 3 years ago | (#36955522)

It's derived from experimental Soviet era jet fighter technology, so you have to think 'Stop' in Russian. But I hear Clint Eastwood is getting one installed in his car.

(If you don't get it search for 'Firefox' on imdb.com)

Re:One flaw: (1)

Alsee (515537) | about 3 years ago | (#36964254)

(If you don't get it search for 'Firefox' on imdb.com)

Some of us prefer Chrome and Opera, you insensitive clod!

-

Not very practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36955870)

I saw a much more practical braking enhancement in a magazine a while back - someone designed a brake pedal that's integrated into the gas pedal.
So, the gas is applied by pushing the gas pedal down with the front of your foot, and the brakes are applied by pushing the whole pedal down with your heel (something would have to be implemented to prevent you from braking and accelerating at the same time - or not, as a good stick driver will use the gas to shift while braking anyway.)

Supposedly, it saves about 200ms moving your foot to the brake pedal.

Delays (1)

olterman (2230796) | about 3 years ago | (#36956530)

Most of the delay comes from your brain actually waking up, analyze and start braking. Another delay comes from your leg moving and pressing the brake.
The controlling part could be automated but not the analyzing part. Otherwise there will be false alarms.

I also hope they measure the brain activity from the correct place, i.e. from the motor pathway controlling the legs.

Maybe the best way would be to totally automate the simplest braking situations (i.e. brake when something is going to hit the car). Have good camera(s) and real time velocity measuring. Leave the more complex cases for the driver.

Tourettes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36956722)

This would be a serious problem for people with Tourettes. Not just for those with seriously active tourettes, but for those that can otherwise keep a handle on it. Someone with Tourettes might be able to prevent themselves from hitting the pedal, but can't control the *impulse* to hit it.

yuo fail i7. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36956764)

[amaZingkresk1n.com] what provides the very sick and its you get distracted about half of the Not anymore. It's AMERICA) is the

Best way to improve braking performance (1)

Burning1 (204959) | about 3 years ago | (#36956894)

Although more efficient braking technology may improve braking distance by 10-20 feet, better awareness of ones surroundings can put a hundred feet of space between a driver and the hazard ahead without any changes in following distance or braking technology.

When we race, it's fairly typical to see following distances of a few feet at speeds in excess of a hundred miles per hour. We do this without brake light. Although rear end collisions do happen, it's actually a fairly atypical incident.

Re:Best way to improve braking performance (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 3 years ago | (#36960506)

Good point. Looking several cars ahead (while still aware of the ones in front of you) helps one notice brakes ahead and react earlier than if one were to wait for the guy in front of you to hit his brakes.

Missing option (1)

codeButcher (223668) | about 3 years ago | (#36957554)

I have lasers mounted on my sharkmobile's hood. I don't need no frikkin' brakes.

But having them triggered by brainwaves would be kinda cool....

This calls for an art project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36958036)

but I have reservations about skull electrodes in any circumstances.

Model a 3d car interior with futuristic forms and color. Include the required skull penetrating shafts, vibrating as they wait for the next driver to enter, tips bloody. Background is dark ambient. The message is "We do everything for safety and security."

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