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OPINION: Distracted driving - the insanity of public roads

The distracted driving epidemic seems to know no bounds. With global road deaths set to exceed 1.5 million human beings in 2011, almost every country in the world continues to accept the mayhem on the roads as the cost of doing business. Distracted driving is the hot topic of the moment with research suggesting 5,800 U.S. traffic deaths last year were tied to motorists who failed to keep their eyes on the road. Another study claims American drivers are distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time, two-thirds of drivers use a cell phone while driving, one-third used a cell phone routinely and observational studies suggest between 7% and 10% of all drivers are using a cell phone at any given time. If you think that's bad, you should see what happens in Asia. Mike Hanlon spent a few months on the road in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand - his photography of everyday motoring in largely motorcycle-mounted countries will leave you aghast.  Read More

BLAZE is a protype device that alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist, by a projectin...

Many people are afraid of riding their bicycles on busy roads full of motorized vehicles, and it's easy to understand why. Not only are bikes slower and offer less protection than cars, but they can also be more difficult for drivers to notice. A device invented by a British design student, however, could help level the playing field a little. It's called BLAZE, and it alerts drivers to the presence of a cyclist by projecting a laser image onto the road in front of the bicycle.  Read More

Owners of vehicles that exceed local allowable noise levels could start automatically gett...

It’s a situation that everyone has experienced – you’re walking down the street, when a vehicle drives by that’s so loud, people cover their ears and cast angry glances at the driver. You assume that it’s illegal to use a muffler that’s so ineffective, or to have a stereo turned up that high, but if it is ... how come so many people seemingly get away with it? Well, part of the reason is manpower. While speeders and red-light-runners can be ticketed in the thousands using automated systems, actual police officers need to go out and manually check cars and motorcycles for noise violations. The designer of Noise Snare, however, claims that his unmanned system can automatically detect and identify overly-audible vehicles.  Read More

One of the GCDC participants will be the AnnieWAY team, from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute...

When it comes to developing new technologies, running a competition is always a good way of helping to speed progress. Not only do such events give researchers more of an incentive to develop their ideas to the fullest, but they also give them a chance to see and be inspired by what other people in their field have been working on. While last year’s Automotive X-PRIZE helped usher in utra-efficient yet practical automobiles, hopefully this weekend’s Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge will do the same for cars utilizing cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC).  Read More

The European Commission has released a white paper detailing ambitious plans to transform ...

The European Commission has released a white paper detailing ambitious plans to transform Europe's transport infrastructure by 2050. The roadmap for a Single European Transport Area includes forty initiatives for road, rail and air travel that aim to increase mobility, reduce reliance on oil imports, cut emissions by 60% and combat congestion by halving the use of "conventionally fueled" cars in urban transport by 2030 with a view to phasing them out in cities by 2050.  Read More

2:1 Industrial Design proposes laying tracks on existing roadways and creating a novel ele...

Like many other regions of the world, Brazil has a transport congestion problem. Once seen as a city issue, traffic jams have spread to smaller and smaller towns. The designers of the OU concept propose a possible solution where existing roadways have rails installed and drivers of specially kitted-out vehicles can join road trains to flow through otherwise congested areas at a constant pace. The electric OU vehicle's wheels would operate in either an open configuration – for normal driving – or closed, for rail travel.  Read More

SARTRE road train project successfully demonstrated in real world tests (Image: Volvo)

Reading the morning paper while behind the wheel of your car might sound like surefire recipe for disaster, but in the not-too-distant future it might just become a safer and more economical option than actually doing the driving yourself. That's the theory behind SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project – a synthesis of personal and public transport that will allow cars to be daisy-chained and automatically controlled by a lead vehicle in a process dubbed "platooning." The project has now made the leap from simulator to real roads in the first successful demonstration of the technology at the Volvo Proving Ground near Gothenburg, Sweden.  Read More

'Superstreet' traffic designs result in faster travel times and significantly fewer accide...

No left turn. That is the simple concept behind the Superstreet traffic design which promises significantly faster travel times, plus a drastic reduction in auto-collisions and injuries. These superstreets are ground level streets – not raised freeways or highways – that allow for greater volume of thru-traffic by re-routing traffic from side streets that would normally be trying to get across the main road. While the idea has been around in urban transport modeling textbooks for over 20 years, researchers from the North Carolina State University have been the first to test the concept in the real world and the results are promising.  Read More

The Anti Sleep Pilot is a dashboard device that lets drivers know when they're becoming to...

According to a 2008 study by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, about 20 percent of all road traffic accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Tired motorists are also eight times more likely than rested motorists to get in an accident, displaying driving abilities similar to those of someone who is intoxicated. The problem is, we often don’t know when we’ve reached that “too tired” state – a situation that the Anti Sleep Pilot was created to address. The Danish-designed device sits on your dashboard, monitoring you and your driving conditions, and lets you know when it’s time to pull over and take a ten-minute rest.  Read More

IBM's Next 5 in 5 list predicts 5 technologies that will impact us in the next 5 years

IBM has announced its fifth annual Next Five in Five – a list of five technologies that the company believes “have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years.” While there are no flying cars or robot servants on the list, there are holographic friends, air-powered batteries, personal environmental sensors, customized commutes and building-heating computers.  Read More

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