Dynamic Cruise Control

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by hinrich

Cruise Control

Back in 2008 I was wondering why we don't have a cruise control that aims to conserve fuel over maintaining a constant speed. While this already saves some fuel over regular driving, it was not optimized to preserve energy.

Today we have adaptive cruise controls that adjust the speed based on the distance of your car to the car in front of you. Newer developments also take into consideration maps of the local terrain. Still, they are not yet able to predict what kind of behavior is needed. As a result, the existing approaches tend to overreact to what is needed (e.g., when going up a hill).

Yesterday Ì saw an interesting article that seems to go into the direction I was hoping for. It describes developments at Ford referred to as Dynamic Cruise Control.

Interestingly, it also links to another aspect that I have also been wondering about four years ago: the concept of road trains - in the article referred to as "connected vehicles". However, the article does not discuss the energy conserving aspect of road trains - maybe this is something we will also see appearing over the coming years as we realize the idea of self-driving cars in an environmentally friendly way.

Posted in Green

Review your standards

Monday, January 06th, 2014 by hinrich


I have seen this numerous times: a new technology comes up and we judge its quality by comparing it to what we know. Microarray technology measures tens of thousands of transcripts in a sample simultaneously. The manufacturers had to show the value of the technology by comparing the results to the data obtained by RTqPCR (the at-the-time established technology). Rarely do we question at that moment whether the approach we are used to is "right". Rather, we assume it is correct and would like to see that the new technology provides us with the same information as we frequently lack a gold standard.

I was reminded about this when reading Mikkel's blog post "Centaurs, the Game of Chess, and 'Smarter Than You Think' by Clive Thompson". He rightly mentions:

For example, I have always thought it curious that people get very upset when "kids today" have trouble reading a traditional clock face, as they have digital clocks all around them. We don't get similarly upset when they don't know how to read a sundial.

In other words, it is worthwhile to question yourself when evaluating some new development, how sure you are about the accuracy of your reference points when coming up with a judgement...

Reference: Centaurs, the Game of Chess, and 'Smarter Than You Think' by Clive Thompson

Posted in Society