IBM’s Traffic Lights Can Remotely Halt Your Car Engine

by , 05/25/10
filed under: green gadgets, Innovation

traffic, ibm, traffic lights, red light, car accidents, green design

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.

+ US Patent and Trademark Office

Via Slashdot

Related Posts


or your inhabitat account below


  1. mr science July 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

    What? And just how long each day would we be sitting motionless due to hackers…..this will be something that will directly piss off enough people that they’d be on it in a second…hacking all day long…..besides, most car’s computers would need to be designed for this, or have an ass on receiver….and NO car before about 1995 could probably even do it at all……IBM is not what it used to be…….invent something to revolutionize society for EVs instead

  2. mr science July 10, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Only a control freak would invent something to hold cars hostage…….people are not evolved enough to live with this….too many would hack this we would be constantly motionless

  3. Gerald Mckenzie June 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    If I had a dollar for every time I came here… Amazing writing!

  4. Henry Bowman May 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Read the patent again. It says nothing about stopping cars to prevent them from running red lights. It is about turning cars’ engines off while they are stopped at red lights, in order to save the gas the car would waste idling. That having been said, it’s still an awful idea for multiple reasons: the gas used to start a car equals about one minute of idle, and few red lights run that long; some cars will experience starting problems and tie up intersections, etc.

  5. pinkie May 26, 2010 at 7:38 am

    hey,how can this type of traffic system help to reduce accident in africa or nigeria to be specific.and please can you send some pictures to my email box.

  6. grawss May 25, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Glitches, control, and what about the cars with trouble starting?

    This technology is asking for disaster, road rage, etc.

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

inhabitat inhabitat

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home