Archive for June, 2011

Autopilot advances

First it was Google testing a vehicle control system between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe to see if they could make an autopilot for a car that would handle normal driving conditions. That experiment is one of the reasons why Nevada passed a law that provides some leeway for ‘autonomous driving.’ Now Volkswagen has a self driving car (ExtremeTech). “It represents a link between today’s assistance systems and the vision of fully automatic driving,” VW said.

VW says the components are a “relatively production-like sensor platform” of radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors plus a laser scanner and an electronic horizon. The system reads speed limit and other traffic signs, made possible because signage is common and consistent throughout Europe — something that might not be possible in the US, because speed limit signs vary between the states.

For the TLA (three letter acronym) enthusiasts, there’s LDW and LKA technologies. LDW is for lane departure warning and serves a function like those rumble strips often found on roads to alert you when you wander out of lane. LKA is for Lake Keep Assist and is an automatic steering to keep you in the center of the lane. As for the Nevada law:

It’s just a small step, authorizing the Nevada Department of Transportation to draft regulations. In a sparsely settled state outside of Las Vegas with lots of straight roads, self-driving cars would be right at home. Nevada also wouldn’t mind getting automakers to use the state for testing and research. VW’s TAP remains far from a production model, but it’s the biggest step so far. And VW’s approach means it could be just a few years off, since TAP promises automated driving only under certain conditions.

Distracted driving that leads to people running off the road or into oncoming traffic are major causes of traffic crashes in Nevada. LDW and LKA, perhaps coupled with other detectors that could determine if the driver was drunk or asleep, could possibly reduce this source of tragedy.

The future is coming and adjusting to it might be a bit difficult. Those stories about the new moho owner who set the cruise control and then got up to go to the bathroom in his rig might just take on a new aspect sometime soon.

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Itty bitty kitchen?

This handbook looks interesting. Cool Tools reviews The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook.

Justin Spring grew up on a boat, with a kitchen even smaller than mine — essentially a camp stove, an ice chest, and a bucket. He has huge insight into the problems of small kitchens, including the ‘shut-off point’ where clutter stops most food preparation and the local takeout place gets a lot of business.

This is a truly holistic guide to getting the most possible use and enjoyment from a tiny kitchen. It includes 100 recipes tailored for the small kitchen (“one-pot, toaster oven brownies”).

The example about the refrigerator mentions cleaning out the coils on the back – this is an annual maintenance item recommended by RV refrigerator manufacturers. The problem is that, in most RV’s, it is nearly impossible to gain access needed for this maintenance.

There is also the suggestion to cover the wire shelving with plexiglass that sounds interest.

240 pages, 2006, but no longer in print? Amazon has it from 3rd party sellers. Maybe you can find it in your local used books store. It looks like it might have some good ideas for the RV kitchen.

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California state parks in memory

A couple of photographers with a pessimistic (modern) outlook on things has started 70in70. They plan to visit each of the 70 California state parks scheduled for closure to create memories of what they think will be lost to future generations.

There are other options available to California but closing public recreation and historical facilities may better suit political whims. At least there’s a new blog with lots of pictures if all you can do for now is a virtual visit.

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Airstream travels – Harrison diary of the 1957 Mexican Caravan

January 12, 1957

The next morning she gave us a bunch of canned goods, some fruit cake and pecans which we appreciated very much. We went back to the trailer just before noon, got ready and came on down to Juarez and was very glad we didn’t wait till today as they were running out of space in the ball park and some of them (caravanners) had to park outside in the street. They have had quite a lot of meetings today. We registered, got our berets, identification cards, tended to our insurance and are almost read to go. I am cooking a supper so as to get it over with before dark.

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