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5 Ways Mandated Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications will Reshape Driving

As you should know from nosing around this website is that I used to run a hybrid and electric car site, obviously called the Hybrid and Electric Car News.  That I did this for 8 years doesn’t make me an expert.  But it doesn’t leave me without some well-informed opinion either.

Anyway, today’s shiny object comes from, on coming government regulation requiring all cars to be equipped with wireless V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communications systems:

All new cars and light trucks would be able to talk wirelessly with each other, with traffic lights and with other roadway infrastructure under a rule the Transportation Department proposed Tuesday. Officials say the technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths and transform driving.


Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V, enables cars to transmit their locations, speed, direction and other information ten times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light, is braking hard, changing lanes or coming around a blind turn in time for a driver or automated safety systems to prevent a crash.


Keep in mind V2V applies to ALL vehicles, not just those semi or fully autonomous (self-driving). So that careening low-end Nissan Versa will be able to talk to that Merc S550 in it’s path and tell it to slow down, because the Versa driver is suffering from class rage this morning.

What is even better is that these guidelines are being dovetailed with V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) communications, meaning that the intersection both vehicles are approaching could literally be the adult, issuing an electronic command slowing both vehicles down.

The Federal Highway Administration plans to separately issue guidance to help transportation planners integrate two-way wireless technology into roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones. Cars could communicate information on road conditions to the infrastructure, which could then be passed along to other vehicles as they come along. Traffic lights would know when to stay green to avoid unnecessary waiting and reduce congestion.


Before I get into the 5 ways this will revolutionize driving let me say the second thing that might pop into your mind is control.  If the system works well, why not mandate all vehicles be controlled by sensors-speed, turning, everything?  This thinking is not new.

Two things.  Autonomous and semi-autonomous cars will be able to navigate themselves within the parameters set by regulators and manufacturers.  So there’s no need to control these cars.  Second, when it comes to the hundreds of millions of drivers that don’t own self-driving cars I say if elected officials want to stay in office, they will resist the urge to implement something as “Red Barchetta” as this.

Back to the point.  How can V2V revolutionize driving?  Let’s start with these 5 ways:

1. V2V will reduce the opportunity for collisions

Building on my earlier example, V2V means the Versa and the Merc will communicate with each other, as well as all cars within a 1000-yard radius (not hampered by line-of-sight). They will broadcast speed, direction, location, drift, and umpteen other pieces of data in real time.  Onboard computers will do their crunching in order to make sure there is no accident by telling all vehicles that could be involved to slow, stop, or take corrective action.  I would imagine the slow or stop command could be triggered regardless of driver input.

2. The technology will force insurers to change the amount and way you pay for car insurance

If the Versa is precluded from hitting the Merc, and this scenario is repeated hundreds of thousands of times a day, 7 days a week; then my car insurance premiums better damn well go down.  This will be a problem for insurers at first, because driving risk is based on observed behavior.  A safer national fleet means financial uncertainly for an industry that makes money on observed behavior. If behavior changes, then the risk profiles have to be blown up and rebuilt. Companies won’t be able to charge the family of a new driver (or elderly, for that matter) as they do now.

Perhaps you’ll pay for insurance on a per-mile basis; or a per-trip basis. Rest assured, you’ll still have to pay.  But it will be difficult to for insurers to convince us that what we were paying before is what we must continue to pay under a system engineered to be safer.

3. In case of an incident, the system will clearly identify who is at fault. Period

A couple of years ago a young guy, Ivan, rear-ended me on a snowy Chicago street.  We pulled to the curb, took pictures, exchanged information and went on our separate ways.  I had a real insurance company.  He had a fly-by-night P.O.S carrier.  His carrier rejected the idea of paying, naturally.  But here’s the reason: they said that since the pictures showed both cars at the curb, I was at fault. I started my car, put my foot on the brake, put the car in reverse and accelerated into the bumper of their client.  Enough to total a 2003 Jaguar X-Type Estate. This is a scenario only Trump could come up with.

Clearly, V2V ends these kinds of shenanigans.  Which could put a lot of the fly-by-night P.O.S carriers to of of business.

4. Cynically, V2V will make it easier to be a sloppy driver

If V2V will mandate cars actuate turn signals at the correct intervals, I will jump for joy.  I think that would go a long way towards making driving safer.  Unfortunately, I think a lot of us will begin to pay less attention because we will depend on the computer to save our ass.

5. V2V will pave the way to semi- and full-autonomous driving for reasons you don’t anticipate

V2V could be the tip of the spear that helps solve practical and heart-breaking automotive problems.  It could affirm a person’s need for transportation, while providing for their human frailties or weaknesses.

If V2V makes it easier for senior drivers, how much more sense would it make to put them in a fully autonomous car?  They get freedom, and the rest of us get a safer vehicle.  Same for 16-year olds. Data taken from vehicles involved in repeated drunk and impaired driving incidents could lead to a court-order mandating the person own or rent an autonomous vehicle.  They can get to work, and we don’t have to worry about their drunk asses on the road.

The coming rules have a 90-day public comment period, followed by an official 1-year implementation timeline.  According to the article, half of new vehicles must have the technology within 2 years and the rest within 4.  I would imagine we’d see aftermarket kits in stores and dealerships, potentially making full-fleet adoption quicker.

I’m all for it.  You?


This is What Worries Me About the Trump Cabinet

Hat tip to today’s Vanity Fair’s VF Hive with a great story on Jared Kushner, the one person Don Donald will listen to:

“My impression wasn’t that he was a moron,” this real-estate acquaintance continued. “But he thought he was so much smarter than he was. That makes for really dangerous and decisive decisions. He is really confident that he’s doing the right thing, but he has no idea what he’s doing.”


If you look at the Trump circle and upcoming cabinet, it is becoming clear that you don’t have someone with either business, political, or government gravitas; that person who can see the wisdom of a decision a few moves in the future.  These are the guys bomb-throwers need to rationally affect the change they want.  They are the people whose brains need to be picked in order to create the envisioned order. Trump himself doesn’t have that kind of gravitas–especially in a realm that is completely foreign to him, and one that he has campaigned on as being hostile.

What you have is a collection of bomb-throwers, some with the attention span of a Twitter feed.  Others have a psychologically unhealthy, almost stalker-like focus.

His most recent pick Dr. Ben Carson, a noted neurosurgeon, has no experience in housing, development or community planning.  But he is being tapped to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a major department with a $49.3 billion dollar budget that serves at least 4.7 million disadvantaged households.

Weren’t there any donors or insiders with experience in development and real estate?  Of all the cabinet picks, this is the one that Trump should have aced.  Is Carson the pick because this is the easiest way for him to demonstrate to the Black poor that if they could just live like him they would be successful? Or is Carson the pick because he will parrot whatever Trump wants?

Carson is a smart guy, have no doubt. But is he the man for the job? Check out this from the Washington Post on the decision.  I’m with them, but not as well written.

For me, the die is already cast.  A man with no intention of managing has handed the reins of government over to people who not only hate it, they want to kill more brown people in foreign lands.

I’m not looking forward to the first inevitable crisis.


Marlon Brando can Come Back from the Dead and Kiss My Ass

For Pete’s sake, even porn actors give consent and have safe words.  Bernardo Bertolucci, on the infamous butter rape scene in the movie Last Tango in Paris:

Comments by the director of the film Last Tango in Paris, Bernardo Bertolucci, that he conspired with Marlon Brando to film a graphic rape scene without the consent of 19-year-old actor Maria Schneider have prompted outrage in Hollywood…The sequence of the butter is an idea that I had with Marlon in the morning before shooting,” Bertulocci said at an event held at La Cinémathèque Française in Paris in 2013. He said he “wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress…”


What that last sentence means in English is that Schneider didn’t see it coming, and reacted as if she were being assaulted.  Which isn’t acting, but is assault. Bertolucci got his shot, and Brando became an even bigger creep.  Here’s a textbook example of an understatement:

“I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn’t tell her that there was that detail of the butter used as lubricant,” he said.


Ya think, you fucking pervert?

Read This Article and You’ll Know More About China and Taiwan than Trump Does

Good article on the background of the relationship between China, Taiwan, and the US in today’s New York Times:

“…The disagreement dates to 1927, when civil war broke out in the Republic of China. The war culminated in Communist revolutionaries, led by Mao Zedong, mostly defeating China’s Nationalist government in 1949.

But the Nationalist leaders fled to Taiwan, at that time a region of China, which their forces still controlled. Though fighting eventually stopped, both sides continued to claim all of China. The Taiwan-based government considered mainland China to be controlled by illegitimate Communist rebels. The Beijing-based government considered Taiwan a breakaway province.


In this sense, the civil war was never fully resolved. Thus, Taiwan’s formal name is still the Republic of China. Mainland China — controlled by the Communist government in Beijing — is called the People’s Republic of China…”

There is a lot more; enough for even me to understand why Trump should have deferred the phone call to the State Department.  Or even have taken State Department and intelligence briefings altogether.  It is one thing to not know you’re making a mistake, especially when starting a new job.  It is reckless to refuse all of the resources available to learn the situation; only to ignore them.

Something else.  Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has a bit on one of the behind-the-curtain players in this mess, a Republican foreign policy bigwig named Stephen Yates. Apparently Yates was behind the idea for Trump to take the call, poking his finger in the collective eye of Chinese government.

Back in 1999, conservatives and the incoming Bushies labeled the anti-nuclear treaty between North Korea and the rest of the world “appeasement”. What were their problems with exchanging aid for shutting down a rogue nuclear program?  Basically take the same set of complaints conservatives and Trump have with the current Iranian nuclear treaty and go back 17 years. Stephen Yates (along with his boss, VP Dick Cheney) was instrumental in creating the political ground to abandon the treaty.  They were successful, and not long after the West stopped sending food and fuel oil, North Korea restarted and completed their nuclear weapons program.  Clearly, Yates is a bomb-thrower when it comes to East Asian foreign policy.

As far as yesterday’s call, Yates now says he was not a part. But he is in favor of challenging the Chinese, this time using Taiwan as a proxy.  I’ll let Josh take it home from here:

“…That is where I fear and believe we are with Trump. Not everything in foreign policy is sacred. But here we have an impulsive and ignorant man whose comfort zone is aggression surrounded by advisors with dangerous ideas. His instinctive aggression makes many of their most dangerous ideas possible; and their ideological formulations give his actions a rationale and logic that transcends psychological impulses and the anger of the moment. Even President Bush had a coterie of more Realist-minded and cautious advisors to balance out the hotheads. They lost most of the key debates – especially in the first term. But they provided a restraining counter-balance in numerous debates.
At present there is no one like that around Trump at all.”

Tiger Woods is Back. But is He BACK?


I’m watching the third round of the 2016 Hero World Challenge. Tiger Woods, back from over 425 days off, has risen to 4-under today from a opening round 73 (1 over).  Eldrick is playing his brains out.  He looks relaxed.  His swing is effortless. Everything looks and feels wonderful.

And then the commentators start talking.  To a fair amount of them, this is the “second coming” of the Baby Jeebus of golf.  And it’s boring already.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Tiger Woods.  As a golfer, he has been great to watch. As an African-American golfer, he’s been a source of pride.  I’m glad to see him doing so well.

But I want to see him play more before I say, he’s BACK.  Because there is a difference.

I want to see him play enough tournaments to go through a cycle of playing good, playing like shite, then figuring it out to play well again. Playing through that cycle, to me, is a better path to follow. I think playing enough to beat back one cycle of adversity is a better way to check the 360-degrees of one’s golf game.

Tiger is back. I can’t wait until he’s BACK again.

New BLUE1647 series wants to help local businesses better utilize their data

From Built In, January 29, 2016

What would your neighborhood corner store or dry cleaner look like if it took full advantage of the data available to it?

CivicBLUE 1647, a data education project based out of Pilsen’s BLUE1647 , is now accepting registration for its CivicBLUE Curriculum, a 9-week series of seminars and labs.

The series, which is provided free of charge by the civic-minded technology center and co-working space, teaches local businesspeople and nonprofits practical data skills.

The goal is to help participants make better use of open data sources as well as their own organizations’ data, and show them how to leverage data to grow their businesses and improve delivery of nonprofit services.

“The Curriculum is a fulfillment of one of our goals, which is to start an ongoing conversation between technologists and the community,” said program director Sebastian James in a statement. “There is a lot of knowledge and experience about data and technology that can easily be passed on to business and social entrepreneurs. CivicBLUE wants to use the Curriculum as a conduit for the community to learn and use as a catalyst for innovation.”

Starting with a “Data 101” course on February 11, the course and workshop series will cover a number of topics ranging from using spreadsheets to mining data, using social media, researching public opinion and ensuring data security.

The curriculum was developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Accenture. Courses will take place at BLUE1647’s Blue Island location from 7 to 9 p.m., but will be live streamed to other BLUE 1647 locations.

The Curriculum series is part of a broad portfolio of initiatives by the organization, which strives to foster greater diversity in the tech community. Its 1919: Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship Initiative provides mentorship, networking opportunities, and workshops to its participants completely free of charge. Other offerings include Latina Girls Code, a programming bootcamp for girls ages 7–17, and a Minecraft Coding Camp that teaches Java to children ages 7–12.

Late last year, BLUE1647, which was founded in 2013, launched a new business incubator in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, which is home to 55 local businesses and is providing advanced IT training for youth and adults in partnership with Microsoft and Cisco. It also has a center in Lawndale, as well as two centers in St. Louis.


5 Questions about BallotReady

The founding team of BallotReady

The founding team of BallotReady

On January 16th, I’m partnering with BallotReady, a Chicago election reform startup.  We’re holding a civic hack to help BallotReady with their mission of injecting transparency into the election process.  Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote at the CivicBLUE 1647 website:

We do this by providing 3 services: information on candidates, reminders about the election, and access to the information in the voting booth.  Information on candidates is our primary product.  By gathering simple information about candidates like biographic details and issue stances, we allow people to make an informed choice.  The next hurdle is getting to the poll.  Users can sign-up on our website for email reminders about election day.  We are also working on other “behavioral nudges”, like linking to your online calendar.  Finally, we allow users to save their ballot on our website, so they can pull up our mobile version in the voting booth as remind themselves who they previously selected.

Click here to read more about BallotReady AND to help us hack for election reform.