Tag Archives: freeway

Close a 10-mile section of highway – air quality immediately improves by 83%

This weekend scientists were able to measure freeway pollution when a 10-mile section was shut down for construction. The results were surprising. Within minutes of the traffic shut-down, air quality for the region improved by 83%. It also improved by 75% in the surrounding cities and 25% for the 30 miles in every direction.

The findings even shocked the scientists, from UCLA News:

“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Suzanne Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”

But just as quickly as the clean air came it was gone. Within a week of cars returning the pollution levels were back to normal. Still, it gives a peek into a future with electric vehicles and much cleaner air.

Read the full article - ‘Carmaheaven’: Closure of 405 in 2011 improved air quality up to 83 percent

 

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There is a mountain lion in central Los Angeles, prowling around Griffith Park

It’s true, in fact, there are several of them but mostly in the nature reserves of the Santa Monica Mountains. This one is different because it is truly in the heart of LA, Griffith Park.

 

 

Surrounded by freeways on two sides, Hollywood and downtown on the others, this is truly an urban area. Which makes it all the more interesting that the lion even made it into the park:

In an odyssey of perhaps 20 miles, the cat had to cross concrete and backyards, dodge commuter traffic and thread an obstacle course of culverts, bridges and roads…(it) might have traversed a bridge or culvert to cross the 101 and 405 freeways to enter the park. It’s possible, however, that the cat sprinted across lanes of traffic — and got very lucky. In a study of the 405, scientists have documented two deaths of lions killed by motorists. – L.A. Times

Fortunately, the cat (also known as a cougar) is extremely solitary and mostly nocturnal. It shouldn’t pose any harm to park-goers while enjoying the plentiful mule deer in the area. Not to mention, the beautiful views of downtown Los Angeles, the celebrity-packed Hollywood Hills, and that never-ending traffic of LA.

The L.A. Times has a nice write-up about the history of lions in the park, including the fact that several Angelenos claimed to see a lion and nobody believed them until now - Mountain lion makes itself at home in Griffith Park

Also, check out the spread of mountain lions from their dominant home, the Western U.S., and back into the Midwest (North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin).

 

 

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Cadillac releases sophisticated array of semi-autonomous sensors for self-driving cars

Google isn’t the only company working on a self-driving car. Cadillac today announced that it is actively road testing a semi-autonomous system called Super Cruise that can control a vehicle’s steering, braking and lane-centering capabilities. Super Cruise, according to Cadillac, is designed to help make freeway driving easier on the driver when either stuck in traffic or during long hauls down the interstate.

The system works by combining on-board radar, ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS data to give your car the ability to read lane markings and detect curves in the roadway.

via Laptop Magazine

 

For certain luxury cars, we are already half-way (or more) there. From the Cadillac news release:

Many of the building block technologies for Super Cruise are already available on the all-new 2013 Cadillac XTS and ATS luxury sedans, as part of the available Driver Assist Package:

  • Rear Automatic Braking
  • Full-Speed Range Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Brake Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Safety Alert Seat
  • Automatic Collision Preparation
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Forward Lighting
  • Rear Vision Camera With Dynamic Guidelines
  • Head Up Display

The key to delivering semi-autonomous capability will be the integration of lane-centering technology that relies on forward-looking cameras to detect lane markings and GPS map data to detect curves and other road characteristics, said John Capp, General Motors director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation.

 

 

Pretty crazy to think about all the technology needed to self drive a car. That’s 12 sensors/alerts/displays with more needed to fully automate the simplest of driving tasks. Makes our brains seem pretty sophisticated.

Visit an amazing new piece at LACMA, Metropolis II, a sculpture of a modern city

“It wasn’t about creating a scale model of the city it was about creating the noise of city” – artist, Chris Burden

Metropolis II is an intense and complex kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city.

Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks.

Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”

via LACMA

 

A short doc about a kinetic sculpture that took four years to build. We had the honor of spending three days in Chris Burden’s studio filming this sculpture before it was moved to the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) where it is being reinstalled.

- Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman