Thinking about zipping through that red light? Well, you won’t physically be able to if IBM has anything to say about it. The technology giant’s recent patent application for “A System and Method for Controlling Vehicle Engine Running State at Busy Intersections for Increased Fuel Consumption Efficiency” prevents cars from running red lights by–get this–remotely stopping vehicle engines.
The patent describes a system that can receive position data from all vehicles waiting at traffic lights and send a “stop-engine” notification to cars waiting for more than a specified amount of time. The patent explains, “The method may comprise..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.”
This seems at first glance like a simple way to prevent traffic accidents, but we’re not thrilled about the idea of a traffic light having access to car engines. What happens if hackers get a hold of the system? And what if there are glitches? We’ll be watching to see if this patent application brings about any actual products.