Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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GPS taken to logical conclusion

GPS taken to logical conclusion
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I am interested in thge way GPS is developping, and can see other uses for it. In cars, I don't see why ALL signs and traffic lights of any kind couldn't be eliminated, if a head's up display was incorporated. As you approach an intersection the HUD projects what the virtual traffic light is doing. If you are going too fast and look to be running a red light or stop sign (again, both virtual) there could be an audible warning to slow dow, stop etc. but also, if there is no other traffic, the system on the ground could know that and make the light green for you, or make the stop sign disappear for you. Lots of fuel savings.

In an emergency, you could, perhaps by quickly talking to an operator (similar to ONstar) get an emergency priority authorization which would make all lights green for you on the way to a hospital for instance.

Speed limits could be made flexible: little traffic, up to 140 km/h, busy/treacherous weather conditions, slowed down to 80km/h on the highway. You could even extend the idea to road markings, especially for multi-lane roads where the centre lanes change direction depending on time of day etc.

There would be lots of savings from not having to install/maintain all the signs, not to mention how much nicer everything would look.

marquisdenet, Mar 13 2009


       I'm sure there is an obvious flaw here, but I can't see it. Genius!
Germanicus, Mar 13 2009

       //There would be lots of savings from not having to install/maintain all the signs//and a fair amount of spendage to make sure all drivers, co-drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and seeing-eye-dogs were outfitted with these things... perhaps at-birth implants ?
FlyingToaster, Mar 13 2009

       <through...gritted...teeth> It's a "head-up" display (except, perhaps if your name is Cerberus). </t...g...t>
coprocephalous, Mar 13 2009

       "Now let's go to Chopper Norm for the traffic - "   

       "It's a real mess out there, Bob. The software glitch has everybody running lights and stopping at non-existent crosswalks".
normzone, Mar 13 2009

       call me a pragmatist but this seems to make us all a little to reliant on expensive unreliable technology.
WcW, Mar 13 2009

       //There would be lots of savings from not having to install/maintain all the signs//   

       What about the cost of maintaining those GPS databases and infrastructure? Besides the massive upgrades that would be required, the day-to-day maintenance would be significantly more labor intensive than maintaining road signs.
ryokan, Mar 13 2009

       Would pedestrians have to carry a gps so they could know when it's safe to cross?
ryokan, Mar 13 2009

       Acquiring satelites.....Acquiring satelites.....Acquiring satelites....Acquiring satelites....   

       "I'm sorry boss I couldn't make it 'cause my gps could'nt receive a good signal from five (i think) or more satelites."   

       "Well let's check your log" (presumably this function is built in for auditing porpoises). " My god you're right! Take one day tech-fail leave son."   

       <employee removes lead cowling from gps and grins...>
4whom, Mar 13 2009

       I really like this general concept, and I've thought about it before (really, I have). It is not the fact that you are eliminating signage that makes this appealing. It's the possilities in traffic routing.   

       Half-bake it with my "hammer lane" concept (also hugely unpopular)... and you have the following... Computer voice: "No traffic impediments for the next 26 miles - you have priority access to hammer lane - SPEED UNLIMITED until further notice"
knowtion, Mar 13 2009

       Thin end of the wedge, Real Time Tech level not demonstrated as reliable, I am the master of my own destiny. [-]
gnomethang, Mar 13 2009

       There would be a lot of dangerous technical issues to clear up, but I suppose it would have a number of useful benefits.   

       Think of all the space you could free up for billboards...
ye_river_xiv, Mar 14 2009

       Considering that my city is plagued by traffic light outages whenever it rains, I'm concerned about reliability with this. Eventually, yes.
sninctown, Mar 14 2009

       [+] I think that GPS is getting reliable enough for this, certainly DGPS but lets continue beyond this logical conclusion - get rid of white lines, pavements/side walks etc, though I suppose pedestrian systems would be needed still. I've seen a vaguely similar system to this to help ships navigate in foggy harbo(u)rs, by making a virtual window.
MadnessInMyMethod, Mar 14 2009

       An even further logical conclusion, with sub-metre accuracy which is on its way from Europe: <Parking>: "20cm forwards and stop". In fact, never mind all the commands, the car could navigate itself, then the only sign would be for everyone else to keep out of the way.
Ling, Mar 15 2009

       //I don't see why ALL signs and traffic lights of any kind couldn't be eliminated, if a head's up display was incorporated.//   

       Of course, the old-fashioned non-GPS cars would be involved in collisions in fantastic numbers. But in a year or two they would be cleared out, as would pedestrians.
ldischler, Mar 15 2009

       I tried getting my GPS to take me to Logical Conclusion, but it was not in its memory!
eight_nine_tortoise, Mar 16 2009

       I've just had a tumbleweed moment.
coprocephalous, Mar 16 2009

       Great idea but poorly presented.   

       The key to moving technology forward is always going to be taking small steps. The first cars werent replacement for the horse however they got better and then they were. This idea would not work for old cars but building into new cars would allow the first steps towards more automated cars. Pedestrian crossings simply need the button and a light to tell people to cross, not a huge post. Traffic lights would not need maintainance and you would also not need to dig up the traffic lights to change junction layouts.
miasere, Mar 16 2009

       I don't want to be too argumentative her, but this 'the old cars would all crash' is, with respect, a bogus argument, and can be used for many many technological advances. You fly a plane nowadays and most likely you need all sorts of electronic equipment - radios, instrumentation, etc etc. No, this didn't happen overnight, but that is by no means any reason at all to pooh pooh the idea. I mean, one has only to look at the switch to digital tv to see a case where old technology users MUST upgrade. Could be the same with cars.   

       The malfunctioning argument also doesn't hold water. OF COURSE technology can malfuntion - so what? I fail to see why these same people are not also deeply worried about existing traffic lights malfuntioning! If a light is green I don't know about you, but I whiz through trusting that there won't be a guy whizzing through from my right or left. I trust that the light is red for him. Or car brakes, or tires, or steering. Of course the point is that technology gets more and more reliable as time goes by. To argue against new technology because it might malfuntion makes no sense. If that was the case we never would be where we are at now.
marquisdenet, Mar 16 2009

       //has only to look at the switch to digital tv to see a case where old technology users MUST upgrade//
<rant> But, for many, digital TV is a step backwards.
In the UK, more DVB channels crammed into the same spectrum means lower bit-rates and poorer picture quality (ignoring for a moment subjective programme content quality issues), so we end up with images with much worse quality than the equivalent PAL transmissions.
Of course, the licensing authorities don't care about this, because more channels means more revenue. </rant>
coprocephalous, Mar 16 2009

       marquisdenent //Of course the point is that technology gets more and more reliable as time goes by//, the point is that technology gets less and less reliable as time goes by, and requires more and more engineering hours to make it work at all. Generally the reliable outcome that the consumer sees requires millions of £/$ etc worth of trail and error.   

       For all engineering:   

       Simple = Best   


       Redundancy = Better   

       I am never going to apply to be an astronaut as I know what it takes to make rockets work. One of my former bosses would never travel by aircraft.   

       GPS is a mathematically simple but technologically difficult problem. Road signs are not. [-]
eight_nine_tortoise, Mar 16 2009

       I don't agree - it took ages to start a snowmobile when I was a kid, now its automatic. Car engines rarely overheat like they used to. Hardly ever get crossed wires when using the phone.   

       Hmmm - when was the last time you got the 'blue screen of death' on your computer? and the ultimate example - Christmas tree lights!
marquisdenet, Mar 16 2009

       //I don't see why ALL signs and traffic lights of any kind couldn't be eliminated//. It's like saying that we should also eliminate printed materials because you can get them on electronic audio recordings. Bone bone bone! Technology is nice but it cannot replace the instantaneous ability to look at a sign and know exactly where you are, where you are going, and how much danger is up ahead. If you were about to turn into a dangerous curve while driving and your HUD was malfunctioning, you have less than a half-second to realize what was about to happen.
Jscotty, Mar 16 2009

       I agree with you marquisdenet. I can't quite understand why everyone thinks that GPS is unreliable. I've worked with it for 8 years and never had a problem. The accuracy is excellent now, especially with DGPS, which also adds a completely independant check on reliability as well. I would say that the chances of it failing are lower than the chances of the sign being blown over or a bulb going in the traffic lights.   

       Obviously the whole thing would be a gentle transition, but to take Jscotty's example, I would much rather approach a corner with my HUD, which would have an element of user programming, so would tell me a safe speed for my car, prioritised signs for me relevantly, and which I knew was working, rather than trying to interpret half a dozen council /!\ marks and antelope warnings.   

       <Eliminate printed materials...> in certain circumstances yes! User manuals frequently come in pdf format now. It's better - they are searchable and more environmentally friendly. Books on the other hand are more pleasing to read in paper form, and will probably be around for ever. Surely there is nothing aesthetically (sp?) pleasing about a road sign?
MadnessInMyMethod, Mar 16 2009

       Impressive. I just hope the CPU doesn't, er, crash on you.
quantum_flux, Mar 16 2009

       //I can't quite understand why everyone thinks that GPS is unreliable//
Not necessarily unreliable, just unavailable in the places you really, really need it, like towns with high-rise buildings.
coprocephalous, Mar 17 2009

       "Not necessarily unreliable, just unavailable in the places you really, really need it, like towns with high-rise buildings."   

       I This would be an eacy problem to solve, much like providing cellphone services in the subway - you just need a localized transmiter etc.
marquisdenet, Jun 08 2009


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