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Hybrid Cars No Better than 'Intelligent' Cars

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-can't-do-that-dave dept.

Power 883

eldavojohn writes "There's no doubt been a lot of analysis done recently on energy consumption, especially on the road. Now, a study released today reveals that cars with traffic flow sensors built into them can perform just as efficiently as hybrids. The concept of an 'intelligent' car that communicates with the highway or other cars is an old idea, but the idea of them using sensors to anticipate braking could vastly reduce fossil fuel consumption. From the article, 'Under the US and European cycles, hybrid-matching fuel economy was reached with a look-ahead predictability of less than 60 seconds. If the predictability was boosted to 180 seconds, the newly-intelligent car was 33 percent more fuel-efficient than when it was unconverted.' Now, the real question will be whether or not you can convince consumers that the three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic is worth the 33 percent less gas and replacing your brake pads/cylinders less often."

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can't you just do this now? (5, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053563)

I thought just "not excessively racing the engine" saves gas, i.e. using cruise control, coasting, etc. Can't we just teach people to do this now? If you have to push on the gas to pass someone, does the chip say "nope, too much gas"?

Re:can't you just do this now? (3, Interesting)

msimm (580077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053639)

I was woI wonder how much more "intelligently" people drive when they have a display giving gas usage feedback like they do in hybrids (and some other newer cars?). I drive a Yaris, which does pretty differently depending on how I'm driving. Concrete feedback on the dash and I'd probably pay more attention.

Re:can't you just do this now? (3, Informative)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053945)

That's not a new technology; I had a Ford T-Bird back in the 80's (when it was the big boat) that flashed a red "Economy" light on the dash when you floored it. And you are correct - unless I was trying to pass a truck on a two-lane highway, when the light flashed, I would usually lift my foot off the gas.

Re:can't you just do this now? (5, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053979)

Try a ScanGauge [scangauge.com] . I don't have one, because my car's too old, but a Yaris (actually, most 1996 and newer cars) will almost certainly work with it.

Re:can't you just do this now? (5, Interesting)

niiler (716140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053997)

From what this article [motherjones.com] says, they do. Of course, the driver who is the main focus of the article may have suicidal tendencies in how he drafts 18 wheelers and how he deals with stop signs in the name of saving gas. Still, it's an intriguing read.

Personally, I was just wondering why it had to be an either-or? Why can't the ultra-economy conscious have the intelligent sensors built into a hybrid car? One would imagine that this would be far better than either.

Re:can't you just do this now? (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053657)

Can't we just teach people to turn off the water while they shave or brush their teeth to conserve water? Can't we just teach people to set their thermostats a couple of degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter to save electricity and gas? Can't we just teach people to take colder showers? Or turn off the lights when they leave a room?

Yes, teaching people better habits is a nice thing to do, but getting them to actually drop their old bad habits is an entirely different story. Our oil problems would be greatly solved if everyone stopped driving their cars and started riding bicycles for any trip less than, say, 5 miles long, but that isn't likely to happen. We must solve these problems through technology because making other people change their lifestyle is just not practical. Most people will resist, and even those who don't are likely to go back to their old ways because people are inherently lazy and will take the path of least resistance whenever possible.

Re:can't you just do this now? (5, Funny)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053933)

Can't we just teach people to turn off the water while they shave or brush their teeth to conserve water? Can't we just teach people to set their thermostats a couple of degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter to save electricity and gas? ...
Okay, I'm with you...

... Can't we just teach people to take colder showers?
NEVER!!!!

Re:can't you just do this now? (4, Funny)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054013)

Hey I turn off the water when shaving/brushing teeth but cold showers are where I draw the line. Ofcourse it seems like there are some people who are overly concerned about water conservation, you can smell them a mile away.

Re:can't you just do this now? (4, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054035)

"Our oil problems would be greatly solved if everyone stopped driving their cars and started riding bicycles for any trip less than, say, 5 miles long, but that isn't likely to happen."

I think that would solve a whole lot more than just the oil problems..

Re:can't you just do this now? (5, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054067)

Most people will resist, and even those who don't are likely to go back to their old ways because people are inherently lazy and will take the path of least resistance whenever possible.

Then we simply need to make the path of least resistance also the most efficient. Any system designer will tell you that you need to make the best choice the default one, because people will overwhelmingly choose the default.

Re:can't you just do this now? (4, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053827)

From what I understand, "racing the engine" may not be worse than puttering along. Hypermilers use a "pulse and glide" system, and it said that accelerating at an RPM where your engine gives peak torque is more fuel efficient than going the absolute slowest RPM you can. Accelerating then coasting. Then accelerate again.

I'm not a hypermiler (they are willing to go too slow, sacrificing speed for mpg, and putting themselves at risk) but I drive like this and use other techniques to increase mileage and it is more fuel efficient. I also try to anticipate stops, lights and drive accordingly. If I see a light that just turned red 200 meters out, I try to coast there, maybe brake early, so that either I let my existing kinetic energy run out or so that I still have some speed when it turns green.

The people behind me don't like this, which I don't understand, because they want to race to the red light, brake the last 20-50 feet, and then start up from 0mph again. They are only wasting their gas and wearing out their brakes fasters, while not getting their any earlier.

Re:can't you just do this now? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054061)

I cannot always see 1+ miles down the road (60 seconds at highway speed). So I cannot anticipate the stop.

Hybrid Intelligent Cars? (4, Insightful)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053569)

But what aboout Hybrid Itelligent Cars being beter then Intelligent cars?

Re:Hybrid Intelligent Cars? (3, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053735)

The nature of hybrids means they are already recouping a lot of the wasted energy from slowing a car. That would make me expect that hybrids would receive less of an energy conservation boost from intelligent controls, but that they would be able to break later and still retain the same performance that conventional engines with intelligence have. So the net energy consumed would be (roughly) the same over all, but Hybrids could drive faster.

-Rick

Hmmm. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053965)

Hybrids do recoup their energy, mostly in the form of braking as well as driving a motor at a constant RPM (for true hybrids; not something like the Prius). The "intelligent" car is simply powering up slower (i.e. no lead foot). In terms of braking, you lose the energy regardless if you slow quickly or fast. All in all, a hybrid will save just like regular car will, but probably not quit so evident. More so, considering that a person who buys a hybrid most likely does not have a lead foot (as opposed to somebody who buys a Tesla or Porsche).

IOW, this would help the hybrid as well as the flow of traffic.

why does this read like they are competing? (4, Insightful)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053573)

the two techs could easily be put together in the same car, and make something much more efficient.

Re:why does this read like they are competing? (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053659)

Yeah! Or ... people could live densely enough (like in NYC, London, Berlin, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.) that they don't need to drive a car and public transportation doesn't by necessity suck.

Re:why does this read like they are competing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053879)

No it wouldn't. Think about it.

Intelligent Drivers (4, Insightful)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053577)

What we really need are intelligent drivers. You know, the ones that don't drive 20 over the speed limit, don't tailgate, keep their cars in tune and the tires properly filled.

The idiot behind you (2, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053697)

I drive a lot for business, about 1500 miles / month in L.A and other parts of southern California. I have a conventional IC car, and driving carefully can save a significant amount of money, so I've tried to drive like TFA says...but this whole scheme does not take into account the guy behind you - the one who wants to rush up to that red light. They will honk, swerve in and out of traffic to get around you, and generally cause more trouble for you and surrounding drivers than it is worth.

Re:The idiot behind you (1)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053929)

And that's what I came here to post.

I drive as fuel-friendly as I can. Never accelerate towards red lights (traffic or brake), get out of low gears quickly, keep the windows up at speed, all that garbage. But coasting for THREE MILES to a traffic backup? I'll get killed when I'm coasting at 35 on the freeways in Detroit when there's no backup to be seen and Joe Cellphone is coming up on me at 80. It's going to take a lot of fuel savings to make up that repair bill, or the increase in my insurance after the 4th time it happens.

I'm all for real-time feedback, and I think if you tied it into current gas prices, people would pay attention. Enforcing a three-mile coast in the vehicle? Asking for trouble.

Re:The idiot behind you (5, Insightful)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053989)

They will honk, swerve in and out of traffic to get around you
Then let them. I'd much rather have a dangerous driver in front of me so that I am in control of the gap than have them behind me where there is very little I can do. When I wave someone past to overtake me, it's usually a big vote of 'no confidence' in their driving.

Re:Intelligent Drivers (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053709)

No, what we really need are magical leprechauns who can convert all of our cars to run on rainbows and lollipops.

I think my idea is a lot more likely to happen than yours.

Re:Intelligent Drivers (1)

Mr Pippin (659094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053977)

That works great, since based on intelligence from Sean Penn, Iraq has plenty of rainbows and lollipops to run them on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q36VmdKkhGk [youtube.com]

Re:Intelligent Drivers (1)

jcorno (889560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053751)

What we really need are intelligent drivers. You know, the ones that don't drive 20 over the speed limit, don't tailgate, keep their cars in tune and the tires properly filled.


Tailgating drastically improves efficiency. Of course, the crashes cut that back a bit. But I see a lot more tailgaters than accident-induced traffic jams. Hard to say which one would have a bigger impact.

Re:Intelligent Drivers (1)

Vasco Bardo (931460) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053803)

Unfortunately several studies declare that about half the drivers will have below average intelligence. :)
Seriously, drivers are actually pretty efficient self-optimizing machines. The only problem is they have little immediate incentives to play nicely with others. Traffic flow control is a rather complex (and chaotic) process to optimize, and it is an area where significant investments are being made today (for example under the FP7 in europe [europa.eu] ). It is a field which has potential for efficiency gains by bettering the perceived "group intelligence" of large numbers of drivers.

Re:Intelligent Drivers (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053817)

No, what we need is an utter lack of drivers. Eliminate cars and highways entirely, and spend the money on some alternate system instead. I like the idea of an electric PRT (personal rapid transit) system, although whether anyone will ever step up and build a useful one remains to be seen. In this world of pork and boondoggles, the answer is probably not. And of course the transition is difficult to impossible. But it would certainly be better for all of us.

Re:Intelligent Drivers (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053859)

Or, more to the point, realise that the break and accelerator are analogue controls. Particularly in the USA, a lot of drivers I've seen seem to treat them as digital; you are either accelerating hard or breaking hard. The concept of engine breaking didn't even seem to have ever been explained to them.

33% (1)

meteldeth (1093643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053587)

Now, the real question will be whether or not you can convince consumers that the three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic is worth the 33 percent less gas and replacing your brake pads/cylinders less often." 33% is a lot of gas to be saved... that's the difference between a 4x4 and a toyota

Re:33% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053757)

33% is a lot of gas to be saved... that's the difference between a 4x4 and a toyota

But what about a Toyota 4x4, if such a crazy creation were ever to be built? That could tear the fabric of space/time.

Re:33% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053849)

But what about a Toyota 4x4 (ie. Tacoma or Tundra)?

Disavowing (1, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053593)

Cue someone claiming that "real" environmentalists do/don't support hybrids/intelligent cars in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Pure electric cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053745)

Yep, REAL environmentalists wants our pure electric car [imdb.com] back!

Why not both? (5, Insightful)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053595)

From the tone of the post, it seems like they're making an argument against hybrid cars by showing that they're no more efficient than regular cars with this new tech... but why not just stop comparing the two and combine them? Shouldn't the title read "Hybrid Car Efficiency Improves Even More with new Technology?"

Re:Why not both? (5, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053719)

From the tone of the post, it seems like they're making an argument against hybrid cars by showing that they're no more efficient than regular cars with this new tech... but why not just stop comparing the two and combine them? Shouldn't the title read "Hybrid Car Efficiency Improves Even More with new Technology?"

Yup, they lose the debate through the old "Not mutually exclusive" argument. Not only that, but those "intelligent" driving techniques aren't always practicable, like in bumper to bumper traffic. That sort of thing is where Hybrids really shine - where speeds are averaging less than 20 mph and people spend time sitting. If I'm in a hybrid, my engine cuts off and I run off the battery for the start-n-stop traffic, and it charges back later. A regular car will typically get well under 10 mph in such situations; a hybrid will get around 60.

In other words, hybrids totally kick ass in the city - small, nimble, typically a short turning radius, and great mileage in city driving.

Re:Why not both? (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053783)

The biggest savings with a hybrid come during times of deceleration and moderate acceleration; "Intelligent" cars would do their best to avoid it. So combining them is more of a case of 1+1=1.5 rather than 2. However, it would still make sense to combine them, because making highways intelligent is reasonable, but turning all the winding town and city streets into intelligent streets with 1-3 minutes of predictability is not. In robotics environments with multiple moving robots, you're lucky if you can predict a good 10 seconds into the future, let alone 180... you need the structure of something like a highway for good predictability.

Re:Why not both? (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053943)

The biggest savings with a hybrid come during times of deceleration and moderate acceleration; "Intelligent" cars would do their best to avoid it.

That's exactly backwards. Intelligent cars plan ahead to avoid sharp deceleration and acceleration. Hybrids shine in a situation like that, since they use regenerative braking when the braking is gentle, and may not even need to start up the gas engine for
moderate acceleration. Just for fun the other day I tried driving that way, and averaged about 80 mpg in city driving (with light traffic) over a 5 mile distance. I wouldn't expect mileage that good if I'd been surrounded by idiots and had to do a lot of sharp braking and acceleration.

Re:Why not both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053921)

Hybrid cars "regenerate" power when you apply the brakes. This other technology is aimed at reducing the amount you use the brakes (by coasting towards traffic jams, red lights, etc). If you reduce braking enough, the fuel costs of the extra weight of the electric motors/generators exceeds the benefit of the energy they recapture from braking.

Weeell (3, Interesting)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053601)

In my opinion, the chief function of hybrids has always been as a stepping stone. They're not great in and of themselves, and anything that merely reduces gasoline consumption rather than replacing it can be seen as something that prolongs oil dependence and all the problems associated with it. However, adoption of hybrids shows the big guys that the public is willing to invest in new and more efficient kinds of vehicles, and will hopefully fuel research into alternate energy sources.

VAR (Vehicular Area Network)? (1)

Nanite (220404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053613)

Since this system has no overall control agent, the cars are like a distributed computing network. Since most traffic is caused by faulty driving I welcome this kind of thing without hesitation.

Re:VAR (Vehicular Area Network)? (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053699)

Since this system has no overall control agent, the cars are like a distributed computing network. Since most traffic is caused by faulty driving I welcome this kind of thing without hesitation.

How do you stop someone from fixing their car to constantly broadcast "DANGER: MOOSE AHEAD" or "EMERGENCY VEHICLE APPROACHING" so they can use it to get through traffic faster?

I think the abuse potential of these technologies need to be carefully studied. If there's a way that any system can be used to create even the most minuscule advantage in traffic, or simply be used to cause mayhem, people will do it in spades.

Re:VAR (Vehicular Area Network)? (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053869)

make it a felony. prosecute vehemently. problem solved. it's easy enough to detect.

Re:VAR (Vehicular Area Network)? (2, Informative)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053901)

How do you stop someone from fixing their car to constantly broadcast "DANGER: MOOSE AHEAD" or "EMERGENCY VEHICLE APPROACHING" so they can use it to get through traffic faster?

Ummmm... make it illegal to transmit false traffic data? Just like it's illegal in many jurisdictions to use those devices that signal to traffic lights that your car is an emergency vehicle so that the lights give you priority (unless your car is actually an emergency vehicle).

Seems kinda obvious.

That'll never be legal (2, Funny)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053749)

Sounds to me like a peer-to-peer network. The RIAA will never let that happen.

And they can deliver it when? (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053615)

Yeah, so how long will it take to roll out these new, intelligent roads? And how much will it cost to maintain them?

Re:And they can deliver it when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053655)

I'd rather see them build a trolley.

You can do it without sensors, too. (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053621)

You don't need sophisticated sensors for this; in most situations, your vision alone is enough to give you 60 seconds of forewarning, or close to it, if you choose to drive "intelligently."

However, most people don't. They'll accelerate when they know there's a red light or stopped traffic in front of them, even though it just means they need to brake harder (and probably come to a complete stop, which they might have avoided by slowing down sooner); people follow too closely on highways and have to use their brakes, which really shouldn't be used for anything except emergencies (and the flashing of which screws up traffic behind them, because people think there's a problem); people mash down on the gas when they're just going to have to stop again in another 100 feet ... the capability for "intelligence" is there, but people choose not to do it.

Perhaps when gas costs more, people will choose to drive more efficiently.

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053681)

However, most people don't. They'll accelerate when they know there's a red light or stopped traffic in front of them, even though it just means they need to brake harder (and probably come to a complete stop, which they might have avoided by slowing down sooner); people follow too closely on highways and have to use their brakes, which really shouldn't be used for anything except emergencies (and the flashing of which screws up traffic behind them, because people think there's a problem); people mash down on the gas when they're just going to have to stop again in another 100 feet ... the capability for "intelligence" is there, but people choose not to do it.

A lot of this kind of driving is caused by proactively taking into consideration the probably actions of the idiots around you.

For instance, I will haul ass up to a light if it will let me get in front of the one dipshit who I know is going to slow me down.

Why am I in a hurry? Because I am. Don't ask irrelevant questions.

I'd rather just replace all cars worldwide with that monorail network with the 3-seater electric cars on it, and be done with it, even though I love to drive. I could always build myself a car and race on a track or something.

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1, Flamebait)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053841)

For instance, I will haul ass up to a light if it will let me get in front of the one dipshit who I know is going to slow me down.

And so you reach the red light, and by the time the dipshit reaches it, the light turns green. Who saves on gas and brake pads there? The dipshit. What did you get? Line position at a red light. Bra-vo. /golfclap

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1)

readin (838620) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053759)

They'll accelerate when they know there's a red light or stopped traffic in front of them, even though it just means they need to brake harder (and probably come to a complete stop, which they might have avoided by slowing down sooner);

Where I drive if you don't accelerate to reach that red light you'll still have to break hard for the numerous people who cut you off before you reach the light.

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053815)

I think you're right that, in principle, people could simply be trained to drive more intelligently (i.e. use less fuel).

However, if people are voluntarily implementing these strategies, it becomes one of those "prisoner dilemma" situations. For instance, I typically do not touch the gas if I see a red light ahead in the distance. In fact, I'm always very proud of myself if I can time it so that I never touch my brakes or gas... I slow down a bit as I approach, then the light turns green and I still have some velocity and smoothly accelerate through the intersection.

That having been said, such strategies don't work with lots of cars around. If you start coasting towards a red light, the cars behind you will start piling up. They will be tailgating you, and the more imprudent among them will even accelerate around you (so that they can get to red light sooner!). So, basically, in order to be "safe" and not create dangerous traffic situations, I have to behave more like "the mob" and accelerate a bit towards the red light, and then break harshly. I feel stupid doing it, but it's safer to do it that way, rather than cause some person behind me to tailgate me.

In principle a technological solution, where the cars are sending each other data, could be used to warn all the cars behind, so that they uniformly coast and slow down. That would be a really neat technology, and would probably save alot on gas. The key is that all the cars would have to "play by the rules."

However, people are reluctant to give up their control of their cars, so I don't really see how this could be implemented.

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053845)

You don't need sophisticated sensors for this; in most situations, your vision alone is enough to give you 60 seconds of forewarning, or close to it, if you choose to drive "intelligently."


Not if you are driving a compact car on a road where other people are driving gargantuan SUVs.

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (2, Informative)

stevedcc (1000313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053855)

Perhaps when gas costs more, people will choose to drive more efficiently.

In the UK, "gas" as you call it ("petrol" as we call it") costs £0.95 to £1.00 a litre - which is over $7 a US gallon. Despite this, people still don't drive intelligently

Re:You can do it without sensors, too. (1)

C0y0t3 (807909) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053863)

You don't need sophisticated sensors for this; in most situations, your vision alone is enough to give you 60 seconds of forewarning, or close to it, if you choose to drive "intelligently."


Maybe its just me, but that seems like alot of forewarning. Thats an entire mile at 60 mph, 1/2 mile at 30. Unless you're talking about rural Kansas, I think that forewarning is exaggerated by a factor of 10.

Still a good idea to attempt to drive intrelligently whenever and however possible. People don't tend to do this because they are:

1. Distracted
2. On the Phone
3. Late
4. Giant pickup driving hillbillies who don't give two shits about the environment or anyone else.

drivers that hurry to the next red light (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053625)

I'm sure that the country would save quite a bit of gas if more drivers did what their drivers ed teacher said and "got the big picture". I'm amused, and saddened, by the drivers that shoot from red-light to red-light. So often, its plainly obvious from the color of the light and the queue of halted traffic, that there's no way that the light will turn green and traffic will move before these speed demon get to the intersection.

Their average velocity is no higher than any other driver, but they sure do burn a lot of fuel doing it.

Re:drivers that hurry to the next red light (2, Insightful)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053695)

Yeah, but every once in a while we get through and leave you slugs behind, making it oh so worth it!

Want economy? (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053643)

  • Drive the speed limit
  • Avoid fast accelerations from a stop
  • No lift kits, remove racks when not in use, reduce drag

Re:Want economy? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053883)

No lift kits

You would think this, due to the increased drag and rolling friction. But most people who install a lift kit also go oversize on their tires, effectively creating a more favorable gear ratio. Trucks are generally geared for hauling/towing, not for freeway use. Installing a lift kit and oversize tires will actually improve mileage in some cases (not all, of course.)

Re:Want economy? (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053967)

* Drive the speed limit
* Avoid fast accelerations from a stop
* No lift kits, remove racks when not in use, reduce drag
All that you suggest increases drag.

My personal favorite... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054051)

A lift kit on a duelly.....That's just going out of your way to waste money. You lose the towing capacity a duelly is intended for without gaining the serious off-road capability a regular 4x4 lifted truck would give.

But you do gain dramatically increased drag.

food for thought... (2, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053653)

I drive a Ford Focus 2007 sedan and in the first couple weeks I had the car I drove fairly sporty [e.g. speed limit all the time no coasting] and got about 13L/100Km in the city. I've spent the last week and a bit driving more carefully, that is, coasting to stops, using cruise control whenever possible, not accelerating as quickly to the next redlight. When I filled up yesterday I purchased 15L of fuel for 154Km of distance. or about 10L/100Km.

In yankee, I'm getting 23.6MPG now instead of 18.2MPG (both in city) for a boost of 29.7% more MPG. I still do the speed limit, I'm just not as heavy on the gas. And when I hit the speed limit I use cruise control where possible. I also don't keep constant speed when there is a red up ahead. Usually I'm doing 20-30 kph under the limit by time I have to brake. If this could be helped via a computer I'm all for it.

Obviously my "study" isn't really comprehensive. But given that i do the same 14Km route every day there aren't a lot of variables in the mix.

Tom

Re:food for thought... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053923)

I get ~23 MPG with a 1997 era, 3.5 liter V6(originally rated at more than 200 horsepower). What kind of engine does that thing have, and what exactly qualifies as lightening up?

Re:food for thought... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054047)

23MPG in the city? Or mostly HWY? My average speed in to work is about 35MPH. The focus has a 2L 4cyl engine that gets around 160 horse power at 5000 RPM.

Tom

Next Week: 'Intelligent' Hybrid Cars perform best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053663)

Next week's article should be: "'Intelligent' Hybrid Cars perform best"
Why does the 'Intelligent' car technology have to compete with hybrid car technology?
Here is a revolutionary thought... Why not use both together?

I don't think this is what people want... (1)

F-3582 (996772) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053667)

Most people like their car as a place where they still have some freedom and I don't think any of those people will like the idea of a car telling them how to accelerate and brake. If a hybrid car can save the same amount of fuel and still lets you drive the way YOU want, why even bother with that other option, anyway?

Anticipating traffic and adjusting speed to match (1)

DigitalDreg (206095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053671)

A year ago I decided to limit my speed to 60, and to start trying to anticipate traffic up ahead earlier and being more gingerly on the brakes. The theory was that fuel spent accellerating is wasted if you wind up wasting it on braking.

The same car (94 Saturn) started getting about 10% better gas mileage with the same commuting pattern. This was pretty consistent in both the summer and winter months.

Just a data point .. even my 'wetware' brain that is imprecise and subject to urges and impulses was able to make a measurable difference.

funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053673)

Funny this study comes out right after congress imposed 35mpg limits for 2020.
Also funny how the concept of implementing traffic monitoring would be tasty for the current administration.

wait those aren't funny at all.

Hybrids means getting ready for our future (3, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053689)

The article says they're not better, but don't claim they're worse either. Why does it matter to you, as a car owner, what makes your car more efficient. The bottomline is what counts, and if intelligent and hyrbids are both efficient, then great.

Also don't forget there are more reasons for hybrids to exist. We're not going to run on oil forever, and the effect it has on preparing the market for a chance shouldn't be downplayed. Plus, we have R & D and manifacturing/safety practices in the development of those cars won't go to waste, when "the time comes".

If anything, the real question isn't "why drive a hybrid when you can drive an intelligent car", but "where the heck are the intelligent hybrids?"...

Coasting makes sense (1)

origamy (807009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053693)

convince consumers that the three minutes of coasting up to a red light or halted traffic is worth
You're not going to get there any faster anyway, so why waste gas and breaks if you can just coast? It's common sense.

Re:Coasting makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053823)

The problem is that your overall travel time increases. How can this happen you ask, because less cars get through each light. The slower you accelerate, the fewer cars get through, the more cars there are ahead of you, the slower you get through a light. The most efficient fuel consumption is to gently crawl through traffic, the problem is that it screws everybody behind you. If everyone goes slow, nobody gets anywhere.

Re:Coasting makes sense (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053881)

It doesn't always make sense though [but yeah most of the time it does]. For example, if you have two sets of lights. And the first goes green first. You may say "oh why not just get up to moving speed and coast to the next." But that means traffic behind you can't get through the first intersection and you're denying their right of way.

What I do is hit the limit [and nothing more] then when I'm reasonably close [e.g. twice the breaking distance or so] I then start to coast.

Of course, if there is nobody behind me I'll just take my time from the start. But you always have to be aware of what's around you.

Tom

Re:Coasting makes sense (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053955)

Common sense is hardly common though. People don't see the long term advantage of coasting, instead they see the immediate glorification of passing someone, even if it means racing to a red light and having to slam on the brakes, THEY BEAT THAT OTHER CAR!!

Makes me glad I drive a Geo... if they pass me while I'm coasting to the light it's like Carl Lewis passing a kid in the special olympics.

Why "Hybrid cars no better"? (5, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053725)

First, the technologies aren't incompatible, competing technologies.

Second, the negative spin on hybrids is bizarre: that they—a widely available commercial technology—are "no better" than the tests suggest a proof-of-concept, not-yet-commercially-available technology might be if put into practical use is, well, a weird way of looking at things.

I mean, usually, that a presently available technology does just as well, with less specialized infrastructure, than a proof-of-concept isn't, even if they are directly competing, bad news for the existing technology, its bad news for the experimental alternative. "New, unproven technology offers no more than existing, popular technology" would be the usual way of looking at that.

Of course, they aren't competing technologies, there is no reason a hybrid couldn't benefit from being "intelligent" or vice-versa. Now, you might not get the full efficiency gains of each, since there is some overlap in their benefits vs. dumb non-hybrids, but you would expect more efficiency than either alone.

the possibilities... (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053727)

Dr. Evil: "Finally, I can do DoS attacks on the highway system without oil slicks or fake road signs. Muhahaha."

intelligent sensors + hybrids (1)

hashfunction (861726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053737)

Why not employ these intelligent sensors in hybrid or RE vehicles for even more efficiency? The thought that employing these sensors in fossil fuel cars will let them compete with the RE vehicles seems a tad ridiculous ...

NO concept of 'relevancy' in article (0, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053753)

The issue is not "economy". The issue is getting out of the slavery to petroleum derivative fuels.

"economic" "intelligent" cars dont matter shit in that regard. its same slavery, but a little bit less.

whereas a hybrid is a TRANSITIONARY phase from breaking free of the polluting and non renewable fuel slavery. Its worth gold as in that today's hybrids are tomorrows full electric/alternative cars.

get your facts straight, at least your logic straight before making a comparison and posting an article dammit.

Re:NO concept of 'relevancy' in article (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053993)

Hybrids like the Prius are not transitionary, because you can't plug them in. In fact, fuel economy is the only thing you get out of such vehicles, because they still run on gasoline and only gasoline.

the perfect is the enemy of the good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053763)

OK. This is great and all, and SHOULD be pursued.

However

Hybrids are deployable on an individual basis. I can but a Hybrid today, mix in with the existing traffic and infrastructure, and immediately get some benefit.

These "Intelligent" cars seem to assume a huge infrastructure update. They also/alternatively seem to require that everyone else upgrade their cars for me to see the benefit.

Like I said, I think that this concept could be a good thing, but from where I stand, it looks more like the "mission to mars" or the "hydrogen economy": a pie in the sky concept designed to kill off any practical partial solutions while everyone waits for nirvana.

Why isn't the headline the other way around? (1)

hhr (909621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053765)

When you say "'Intelligent' cars, a technology that's only exists as a protoype, are only as good has hybrid cars, a technology that exists today." it sounds so much less sensational.

There is an easy way to increase gas mileage now: (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053771)

Coordinate the damn traffic lights. Yes, maybe I do have a knack for triggering a red light when I drive up to it. But what I don't understand is why on major expressways (essentially freeways through urban areas with traffic lights), red lights are triggered when a single car comes to a stop at a small cross road. The net effect is that in order to get a single car across the road in less than 20 seconds, 10 cars have to come to a stop for 20 seconds.

Seriously, is it that hard to tie the road sensors to timing chips? It doesn't even have to be done on all roads - but anything labeled an expressway, as well as a major roads with known traffic patterns should all have coordinated lights at all times. Expressway cuts through residential areas for 3 miles? Have a green wave run one way in the morning and the other way in the evening. Major road intersects with expressway? All lights on that major road are timed according to the same mechanism, except the one that controls the intersection with the expressway. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. Any improvement over the current idiocy of stopping 10 cars to prevent one car from idling for more than 20 seconds will result in a dramatic improvement in gas mileage.

How do I know? My car computer shows average gas mileage, as well as current. I can improve my gas mileage from 27 mpg to 32 mpg if I manage to coast through major roads at 45 mph, instead of having to stop at every friggin red light. All it takes is to have a timing chip control each light, program it according to traffic patterns and expected (or even desired!) speed of cars, and you're done. Instant improvement in gas mileage, and instant reduction in oil imports.

It boggles my mind how Europe had those things down pat 20 years ago, but here they still don't get the concept of a green wave on major roads.

Re:There is an easy way to increase gas mileage no (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053987)

Seriously, is it that hard to tie the road sensors to timing chips? It doesn't even have to be done on all roads - but anything labeled an expressway, as well as a major roads with known traffic patterns should all have coordinated lights at all times. Expressway cuts through residential areas for 3 miles? Have a green wave run one way in the morning and the other way in the evening. Major road intersects with expressway? All lights on that major road are timed according to the same mechanism, except the one that controls the intersection with the expressway. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have to be. Any improvement over the current idiocy of stopping 10 cars to prevent one car from idling for more than 20 seconds will result in a dramatic improvement in gas mileage.


AFAIK, that approach has been used for decades in many places in the US.

Need Smarter Hybrids (5, Interesting)

superid (46543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053781)

As others have already pointed out, hybrids could benefit from this too.

I have a prius. I have a 20+ mile commute one way. Yesterday I averaged 70.3 MPG for the trip home. I did this using manual "look ahead" and very carefully planning braking and coasting just to see how high I could get it. You can easily blow 10MPG with one bonehead maneuver from lack of attention but this manual concentration on mileage is probably as distracting as talking on a cell phone.

I'd welcome the technology in my prius or in my SUV. Both can benefit.

Hybrids not really hybrids (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053785)

The hybrids today are not really hybrids. They are just fuel savers. True hybrids are cars that use 2 types of fuel such as the ford flex fuel. However the ethanol is not as good as other fuels that are out there. I have my car converted to run on hydrogen alone and can go 500-700miles without refilling the cylinders. We need to switch to electric, hydrogen, LNG, CNG, or something along those lines so we can cut off the middle east from U.S funds.

and for those that can't read what I wrote here it is in hex

54 68 65 20 68 79 62 72 69 64 73 20 74 6f 64 61 79 20 61 72 65 20 6e 6f 74 20 72 65 61 6c 6c 79 20 68 79 62 72 69 64 73 2e 20 54 68 65 79 20 61 72 65 20 6a 75 73 74 20 66 75 65 6c 20 73 61 76 65 72 73 2e 20 54 72 75 65 20 68 79 62 72 69 64 73 20 61 72 65 20 63 61 72 73 20 74 68 61 74 20 75 73 65 20 32 20 74 79 70 65 73 20 6f 66 20 66 75 65 6c 20 73 75 63 68 20 61 73 20 74 68 65 20 66 6f 72 64 20 66 6c 65 78 20 66 75 65 6c 2e 20 48 6f 77 65 76 65 72 20 74 68 65 20 65 74 68 61 6e 6f 6c 20 69 73 20 6e 6f 74 20 61 73 20 67 6f 6f 64 20 61 73 20 6f 74 68 65 72 20 66 75 65 6c 73 20 74 68 61 74 20 61 72 65 20 6f 75 74 20 74 68 65 72 65 2e 20 49 20 68 61 76 65 20 6d 79 20 63 61 72 20 63 6f 6e 76 65 72 74 65 64 20 74 6f 20 72 75 6e 20 6f 6e 20 68 79 64 72 6f 67 65 6e 20 61 6c 6f 6e 65 20 61 6e 64 20 63 61 6e 20 67 6f 20 35 30 30 2d 37 30 30 6d 69 6c 65 73 20 77 69 74 68 6f 75 74 20 72 65 66 69 6c 6c 69 6e 67 20 74 68 65 20 63 79 6c 69 6e 64 65 72 73 2e 20 57 65 20 6e 65 65 64 20 74 6f 20 73 77 69 74 63 68 20 74 6f 20 65 6c 65 63 74 72 69 63 2c 20 68 79 64 72 6f 67 65 6e 2c 20 4c 4e 47 2c 20 43 4e 47 2c 20 6f 72 20 73 6f 6d 65 74 68 69 6e 67 20 61 6c 6f 6e 67 20 74 68 6f 73 65 20 6c 69 6e 65 73 20 73 6f 20 77 65 20 63 61 6e 20 63 75 74 20 6f 66 66 20 74 68 65 20 6d 69 64 64 6c 65 20 65 61 73 74 20 66 72 6f 6d 20 55 2e 53 20 66 75 6e 64 73 2e

Backwards Headline (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053805)

Hybrid cars are better than the typical cars. Now there's a prediction that "intelligent cars" will also be better than typical cars, as much better as are hybrids. So the correct headline is

"'Intelligent Cars' As Good As Hybrid Cars"

Otherwise the headline is about hybrids, which this story is not about. And it implies that hybrids aren't so good, as if not-so-good "intelligent cars" are their benchmark.

Plus, the research is only a single prediction of a complex system yet to be built, let alone tested, so a correct headline would be in the future tense, anyway.

Unrealistic (1)

DrEnter (600510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053833)

This expectations of better efficiency are laughably unrealistic in the actual world. If your "smart" car starts to slow down because of traffic congestion out of sight ahead, how many "normal" cars (or even better, "normal" hybrid cars) are going to slow down behind you? Not as many as are going to pass you. Once they pull in front of you, that "slow down" calculation is going to need to adjust for more cars in front of you and slow down more, exacerbating the problem. Also, these efficiency increases only occur on "smart" roadways, which even in the most wired future will never be placed everywhere. This system would only approach the stated efficiencies if *every* car on the road used it and *every* road was made to be "smart". Frankly, I find the hybrid (and almost every other) approaches to improved automotive efficiency more realistic and less costly alternatives.

how about intelligent city design? (5, Informative)

nominanuda (786275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053867)

I have a honda insight, and since I've moved to Providence, RI, I've seen my fuel efficiency drop from an average of 70 miles per gallon per tank of gas (in Connecticut driving mostly on back roads at moderate speeds) to 60ish (mostly city driving) in Ann Arbor, to barely 45 mpg here in Rhode Island. I am convinced that it is mostly the fault of poor traffic planning here. I've never seen a city with worse timing for the lights. You will often get a green light only to be forced to stop 30-40 feet away at another light that turned red the very instant your light turned green (Benefit and Waterman/Angell anyone?)

with that said, i always did wonder how much of my great mileage in Connecticut was due to the fact that I could watch and keep track of my mpg. ie. would I see a similar increase in mileage in a non-hybrid car just by being able to monitor my driving efficiency?

The cars themselves would be a lot cheaper (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053875)

Hybrid cars are sufficiently expensive that they can't be justified on the basis of fuel savings. Computing power, on the other hand, is dirt cheap. The 'intelligent' bits might add less than $1000 to the price of a car. That would be economic.

I saw an article recently that accounted for all the energy that went into making, driving and scrapping a hybrid car. The hybrid was actually worse in environmental terms than most other cars on the road, once you took everything into account.

predicting traffic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053877)

There is no way of predicting that a tractor trailer is going to enter the freeway and then pull over three lanes of traffic slowing every one of them down. This claims that it can predict this 3 minutes in advance. At 60 mph, that's 3 miles! There are a lot of assumptions in this.

We will all put our vehicles in auto drive and let the computer handle it. You will have to program every trip into your auto driver and file the plan with the central computing system to make sure it's OK.

It makes a great headline but it is not very realistic.

Disruptive technology (1)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053885)

This is a standard disruptive technology situation. When they first come out, disruptive tech items usually don't offer a clear immediate advantage. Like when hydraulics came out, compared to the cable operated equipment of the time they were expensive, underpowered, and overcomplicated. But the nascent technology of hydraulics was able to develop in leaps and bounds and eventually beat the cable operated stuff in all those areas, plus it added safety.

Hybrid transportation might be in that early phase where sure, it's not a slam dunk, but on the other hand, it's the _beginning_ of its development lifecycle compared to the non-hybrid options that are at an incremental improvement phase right now with over a hundred years of refinement under its belt.

I wouldn't write off hybrids just yet, there's a lot of 'low hanging fruit' still out there for the R&D organizations to pluck in terms of improvement. It's shortsighted to call the game just yet.

Wool Coat No Better than 'Intelligent' Coat (4, Insightful)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053893)

Well, except that I can actually buy a wool coat.

They also did not price it. (1, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053895)

While I assume that pricing of the sensor system is far cheaper, they really should have given us numbers. If it turns out that installing the sensor/computer costs $15,000, then hey, buy the Hybrid.

I always coast up to red lights. (1)

dave1g (680091) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053897)

I think its funny when some dumb ass stuck behind me passes me, speeds up and then stops at the red light, and if I'm lucky it turns green before I even get there and I can avoid using my brakes at all.

Why do people race to get to the stop light. Now if its a stop sign where you will have to stop no matter what, the incentive to coast is slightly less since you will stop no matter what. And reaching the stop sign faster actually decreases the time to your destination.

In fact, in general I try to use my brakes as little as possible. If I see a car ahead of me braking I just take my foot off the gas. Usually it was only a momentary application of the brakes to let some one in or some one who is anal about staying below the speed limit. If the brake stays on I will apply my brake but most of the time it is a very short brake burst that I see so I win by not pressing my brakes.

Re:I always coast up to red lights. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053963)

Ahh so you're one of those annoying people that think they're being a good driver by driving slowly and causing a massive tailback.

Fact versus Fiction (2, Insightful)

Egnever (307429) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053905)

The paper in the first link is just that - it's a paper. This is something that is THEORETICAL. Not something that is actual. It's like Hydrogen powered cars - until you can actually buy it, it is a bunch of hot air.

As for the second article, the notion of cars talking to eachother and the roads is great. That's not the world we live in yet though. This requires auto-makers to start adding this to their cars, as well as massive expensive modifications to the road system. Convincing every state, county, municipality, etc in the US to install this stuff would be very hard - especially since not everyone is a techie. Even if Congress were to mandate it, it would still take a long time to see it deployed.

These things are clearly future possibilities. They are not present options. There's a huge difference. It's fact versus fiction at this point. I think the way that this is presented makes it seem like you have a choice between these two, and that they are competing. This is not an either/or kind of thing. You could put the intelligent car technology in any vehicle - hybrid or not.

Sorry for being a troll. Seems like someone should point this out.

I'm all for more intelligence being used by regular people.

hmmm (0, Redundant)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053911)

Well wouldn't smart hybrid cars be even MORE efficient?

Beam me up Scotty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19053939)

...there are no intelligent cars down here.

Hybrid cars will work just by buying and using a hybrid vehicle.

Intelligent cars will work when a massive nationwide highway network is built and rolled out.

Sounds like hybrids are the way to go right now.

Killing two birds with one stone (3, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19053991)

We can end our dependence on fossil fuels and solve the obesity problem in the U.S. in one fell stroke: ban automobiles and give everyone a bicycle.

Not to mention that road fatalities would drop to effectively zero.

I'm not saying...I'm just saying.

How important the findings are? (1)

9gezegen (824655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054011)

After searching the web for the names of the researchers, I came empty handed. Australia's Intelligent Transport Systems do not have a link to the paper, Elsevier doesn't have the online article yet at ScienceDirect. This leaves the question on what they compared the intelligent systems against. It is possible that intelligent systems behave better (but under what kind of conditions?. It is stated that the cars used Australian driving cycle but what conditions those cycles represent. Was that under heavy traffic or on empty highways?). But the most important question is not answered, how the a hybrid with an intelligent system is going to behave. Since hybrids gain an important portion of their power from breaks, what would happen if an intelligent system reduced the amount of braking? In that case, would an intelligent system that promotes breaking would be more efficient? As I said I couldn't find the research paper but it seems like these questions are not answered.

I, for one,... (1)

NoseBag (243097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054037)

...would love to see this implemented autonomously, just so's I could observe it and marvel at the principles of adaptive feedback control. Poetry in motion!

We're getting hosed. (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19054063)

The UK Ford Focus gets mileage like a Prius.
The US Ford Focus gets mileage like a Taurus.
They CAN DO THIS ANYWHERE.
They choose not to and claim it's too expensive or impossible.

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