Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Reason To Ride A Bike

Here is an excerpt from IBM's patent application for a 'System and Method for Controlling Vehicle Engine Running State at Busy Intersections for Increased Fuel Consumption Efficiency.'


Vehicle fuel consumption is a major component of global energy consumption. With increasing vehicle usage, there may be more traffic and longer wait times at traffic signals (e.g., at a traffic intersection or a railway crossing). Fuel may be wasted when drivers keep their vehicles running while waiting for the traffic signal to turn "green" or waiting for a train to pass at a railway crossing. Most drivers may not switch off their engines in these situations. Drivers who do switch off their engines may do so inefficiently. For example, a driver may switch off the engine, only to start it up a short time later. In such cases, more fuel may be consumed in restarting the engine. Some traffic signals may have clocks that indicate remaining durations before the signals change. However, drivers in vehicles waiting at the back of the queue may not be able to view the clock.


The present disclosure is directed to a method for managing engines in response to a traffic signal. The method may comprise establishing communications with a plurality of participating vehicles; responding to a stop status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: receiving a position data from each participating vehicles; determining a queue comprising a list of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal; determining a remaining duration of the stop status; sending a stop-engine notification to the list of participating vehicles stopped at the traffic signal when the remaining duration is greater than a threshold of time; responding to a proceed status indicated by the traffic signal, further comprising: sending a start-engine notification to a first vehicle in the queue; calculating an optimal time for an engine of a second vehicle in the queue to start when the first vehicle starts moving; and sending the start-engine notification to the second vehicle in the queue at the optimal time.

On the bright side, we could take down the photo-red cameras since the traffic signal will be shutting down car engines. Hmmm, but it's only for "participating vehicles".

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Uhhhhh.... I wonder what happens if you're in a line in the rightmost lane and everyone, including yourself, is turning right. Doesn't sound like an all around good plan.

Besides, isn't that what easy-to-start engines like hybrids are for? They already shut off when you're stopped....