Slow Train Coming « Jon-Erik Lappano

Interviewed by Jon-Erik Lappano about HSR in US and Canada: on Slow Train Coming

Group to show car that can be driven by the blind

Via Greater Greater Washington Group to show car that can be driven by the blind

July 2, 2010 – 6:38am
By KEN THOMAS
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Could a blind person drive a car? Researchers are trying to make that far-flung notion a reality.
The National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech plan to demonstrate a prototype vehicle next year equipped with technology that helps a blind person drive a car independently.
The technology, called “nonvisual interfaces,” uses sensors to let a blind driver maneuver a car based on information transmitted to him about his surroundings: whether another car or object is nearby, in front of him or in a neighboring lane.

If you are going to do all that, why don’t you take the person out of the loop entirely for control and navigation? No offense to the visually impaired, but wouldn’t it be easier to have a car that took anyone to their destination without involving humans in steering. The car itself derives from Virginia Tech’s DARPA Urban Challenger entry. The last thing we need to do is insert more potential sources of error (sensors + feedback systems) into the system. We should be looking to take them out. As proof of concept, I suppose it is a useful learning exercise, but as something that aims to be deployed, this seems like the wrong technology path.
With the rise of texting while driving, phone calls while driving, make-up while driving, shaving while driving, reading while driving, etc., it is clear most drivers really would rather be doing something else with their eyes and brains than keeping them on the road.

Microsoft tech allows sticking batteries in any way you want

Speaking of standardization … I am not much for MS products, but this seems genuinely useful: Microsoft tech allows sticking batteries in any way you want

Microsoft announced a hardware solution that will allow users of portable devices — digital cameras, flashlights, remote controls, toys, you name it — to insert their batteries in any direction. Compatible with AA and AAA cells, among others, the patented “InstaLoad” technology does not require special electronics or circuitry, the company claims.

Now if they could solve the drive on the left/drive on the right problem, they will have made a major contribution.