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weblog archives
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Whatever Happened to Automated Highway Systems? AHS were once the dream of car manufacturers and consumers alike, epitomised by GM's Firebird II concept, shown at the 1956 Motorama and the star of a film detailing the Dream Highway of Tomorrow, one of the earliest AHS. The Firebird II could actually drive without human intervention, provided a wire was buried in the surface of the road.

But although the idea has been around for literally decades, other advocates are still suggesting we take the first step. The political will and public desire for automated systems expired long ago, and the last flurry of interest was just eight years ago at the Demo '97, when 20 modified Buick LeSabres ran along a stretch of Interstate 15 in San Diego. At the time, concepts like Buick's XP2000 (very software-sounding) were getting geared up for the widespread implementation of automated highways, yet nothing really happened. What will change is the advent of true car-to-car communication, using Bluetooth-like broadcasting, rather than unreliable sensor-based systems. A common standard has now been agreed for cars to broadcast their position to others and monitor exactly what's going on around them; once these systems are in place, AHS are almost inevitable. Only now, the issue for the public is no longer one of convenience but of control.

More autos. Vauxhall Heritage, nice of a manufacturer to sponsor a public site about its past, especially when that past is often rather naff. Many horrors abound in this copious gallery of concept cars. Is styling everything? No, according to Detroit, Retro Has Failed You, an article in The Car Connection which asks, 'How many looking-back cars have been big hits? Surprisingly few.' Certainly not the Chevrolet SSR, Ford Thunderbird, New Beetle and horrid Chrysler PT Cruiser (although apparently Zaha Hadid drives one).

*

Other things. Self-explanatory: monster magazine covers, via Tofu Hut / can someone explain the differences between the US and UK versions of Google maps? Type in a street name in the UK version and it brings up a list of places (or the map itself if it's a unique location). Do the same thing with the US version and you get business listings. Why is this?

Whitelabel.org, a weblog, which brings us the wonderful London Underground accelerated time disruption map. In the grand tradition of tube map-obsessed weblogging, Stefan has taken Transport for London's own data on disrupted tube lines and turned it into a mesmeric Quicktime movie. Watch as tube lines blink on and off like forks of lightning flashing across central London. The upshot of all this data mining is the remarkable statistic that the London Underground runs without problems just 22% of the time. Marvellous.

A fine collection of vintage cameras, via coudal. Strange to think that one day these objects will be totally obsolent, as chemical processes are slowly phased out. Last year, Ilford, one of the oldest names in black and white photography, went into receivership. Happily, it appears to have survived, for now / the in crowd, a weblog / me, my life + infrastructure, a weblog.

The China photography of Ferdinando Rollando / how to roll a Boeing 707. Earlier still, a homage to the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (via i like) / glossy architecture: 50 Years of Record Houses / minimalist and electronic mp3s at the dozer blog / Happy Birthday Miffy!, A celebration of the work of Dick Bruna / Memorial museums, 'cabinets of misery' according to Tiffany Jenkins in Spiked.