Students Invent Light That Could Prevent Accidents

from the sounds-familiar dept

Years back, I remember hearing about plans for brake lights to be on a gradient. The idea was that the harder someone pressed on the brake, the more the lights would light up. This would be useful in quickly determining what was happening with the car in front of you, and if you needed to slam on your brakes, or just monitor the situation. I’d heard that the car companies killed this idea and “compromised” with the “third eye” brake light instead. The details of this story could be wrong, since it’s probably been fifteen years since I heard it. However, it still seems like a good idea to me. I’m reminded of it now, as I read this article about some students who have built a special brake light that will flash if it determines you are doing a “panic stop” instead of just pressing on the brake normally. It certainly sounds like a good idea, and could help towards avoiding some accidents. Of course, the fact that the folks working on this have received a patent for it makes me wonder if the “gradient” brake light idea might be prior art. Also, the story of the car companies killing the original idea for the gradient brake suggests that this type of solution is unlikely to catch on unless it’s mandated in some way – or most of the major car manufacturers can be convinced that it’s in their interests to offer it standard.

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Comments on “Students Invent Light That Could Prevent Accidents”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Flashing for one particular condition strikes me as sufficiently different from a continuously varying brightness in response to braking pressure that I wouldn’t worry about the gradient scheme as patent-invalidating prior art.

I’d be more worried about the device that’s been available in the motorcycle aftermarket for at least the last ten years, which causes the brake light to flash for a period of time whenever the brakes are applied. It’s not the exact same idea (the motorcycle thing always flashes when the brakes come on, not just on a panic stop) but it’s a lot closer to this “new” idea.

TM says:

Flashing Lights

If I recall correctly, the gradient approach proved unworkable in testing. I guaranty you there’s an SAE paper on it somewhere. The flashing idea has been around for years, as someone else posted, though I’ve never heard of it being widely adopted anywhere.

Rumours of car companies “killing” technology are just that: rumours. They pander to that element in society that wants to regulate everything. “See, if it weren’t for those nasty [insert your choice of: car companies|oil companies|venture capitalists|white European males] we’d live in paradise. What we need is more regulation!”

Anonymous Coward says:

You already have this technology!

You can do this yourself. Just hit your hazard lights when you see a sudden slowdown ahead of you.
Hitting the hazards is also a great way to remind the prick behind you that he’s endangering your life by tailgaiting you. In my experience, about 7 in 10 people immediately back off and behave themselves.

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