IBM Wants To Control Your CarS

A patent application filed by IBM engineers reveals the company's developing technology that will allow governments to shut down the engines of private automobiles via traffic signals. It's like Skynet... only much worse.

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Engineers from IBM, suddenly free from the burden of making computers, are hoping to ruin the driving experience by handing over the ability to stop and start car engines over to traffic lights, railroad crossing gates and other transportation signals. Here's the abstract:

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.

The goal of the system is to lower fuel usage and optimize the movement of vehicles through intersections by controlling engine operations remotely via traffic signals. A railroad crossing could sense the vehicles in the general vicinity were going to be stuck for a while and would then cut the power to save gas. It's similar to the start/stop systems on a few modern cars but taken to perverse extremes.

The patent just covers the method and steps for a system, not the actual communications technology, but it's still scary and impractical in places where someone needs to use their A/C.

[US Patent Office via TransportGooru]