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Robocones 291

Posted by michael
from the rubbernecking dept.
Anonymous Meoward writes "Researchers at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln have come up with robotic traffic barrels ('bollards', for our British readers) that can be repositioned by remote control, thus minimizing a road worker's time in harm's way. Apparently, the barrels can be grouped and positioned by an autonomous 'shepherd' unit, that is also smart enough to also remove an errant barrel from its herd. The barrels themselves are about as intelligent as.. well, orange barrels. Okay, let's cue the more obvious jokes..." Reader zombieflesheater submitted this previous attempt to mobilize road furniture.
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Robocones

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:46AM (#9006438) Homepage Journal

    "Deploying and retrieving highway markers on open roads is hazardous so the robots will reduce risks for workmen," researcher Shane Farritor said."

    Are there statistics anywhere on how many workers are killed or injured while moving cones every year?
    The article mentions risk without refering to hard data so it seems like a solution in search of a problem. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I just want to know how they qualify the risk they mention or if it's a neat university project solely for the sake of being a neat university project.
    • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:54AM (#9006524)

      Are there statistics anywhere on how many workers are killed or injured while moving cones every year? The article mentions risk without refering to hard data so it seems like a solution in search of a problem. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I just want to know how they qualify the risk they mention or if it's a neat university project solely for the sake of being a neat university project.

      See, here's the disconnect between book smarts and street smarts, literally. Have you ever tried to cross the New Jersey Turnpike when dense traffic is going as high as 90mph? Ever play frogger? Having a way to move cones without risk is an obviously good idea. The only thing that worries me is a driver getting distracted from looking at the new technology.
    • by Re-Pawn (764948) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:56AM (#9006542)
      From the CDC (1998):
      Among the 492 work zone fatalities, the leading occupations were construction laborer (42%), truck driver (9%), construction trades supervisor (8%), and operating engineer (8%). The most common primary sources of injury were trucks (45%), road grading and surfacing machinery (15%), and cars (15%). Seventy-four percent of the work zone fatality victims were employed privately, the remainder by state or local governments (13% each). In 318 of the 465 vehicle and equipment-related fatalities within work zones, a worker on foot was struck by a vehicle. Victims of these events were as likely to be struck by a construction vehicle (154 fatalities) as by a passing traffic vehicle (152 fatalities). Incidents involving backing vehicles were prominent among the 154 worker-on-foot fatalities that occurred within the confines of the work zone (51%).

      Definitely not an epidemic, though it appears that the workers themselves cause about half of the accidents.
      • I wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

        by be951 (772934)
        I wonder if this might also reduce the time that lanes are blocked when no work is being done. Seems like much of time when a lane is blocked by orange barrels (significantly slowing traffic), little or no work is being done. But (I suppose) it is not practical or safe for workers to repeatedly deploy and retrieve barrels unless a work stoppage will be for an extended time. But if the process is automated, it seems that it could be done much quicker. So instead of blocking a lane for six miles before ge
      • by SEWilco (27983) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:07PM (#9008076) Journal
        From the CDC (1998): Among the 492 work zone fatalities, the leading occupations were construction laborer (42%), truck driver (9%), construction trades supervisor (8%), and operating engineer (8%). The most common primary sources of injury were trucks (45%), road grading and surfacing machinery (15%), and cars (15%). Seventy-four percent of the work zone fatality victims were employed privately, the remainder by state or local governments (13% each). In 318 of the 465 vehicle and equipment-related fatalities within work zones, a worker on foot was struck by a vehicle. Victims of these events were as likely to be struck by a construction vehicle (154 fatalities) as by a passing traffic vehicle (152 fatalities). Incidents involving backing vehicles were prominent among the 154 worker-on-foot fatalities that occurred within the confines of the work zone (51%).

        Executive Summary:

        • Leading occupation: construction laborers 42%: Laborers should not be hired for construction tasks.
        • Primary source of injury: trucks 45%: Ban trucks from construction areas.
        • Employer: private employer 74%: All work should be done by state or local government workers.
        • Worker on foot struck by a vehicle 68%: As these are vehicle-related, being on foot is more hazardous than being in a vehicle, thus workers should not be on foot.
          However, data is not given to distinguish between the possibilities:
          • Worker on foot struck by a vehicle, worker on foot dies.
          • Worker on foot struck by a vehicle, worker in vehicle dies.
          • Worker on foot struck by a vehicle, non-worker in vehicle dies.
        • Workers as likely to be struck by construction vehicle as by a passing traffic vehicle: Either all vehicles should be banned or all vehicles should be construction or traffic vehicles.
        • Backing vehicles 51%: A vehicle can go either forward or backward, so there is a 50% chance of either. The additional 1% is insignificant.
        • Worker on foot struck by another worker on foot: No data.
        • Worker on foot striking another worker on foot: No data.

        Construction Zone Safety Solutions Are Obvious:

        1. Do not hire laborers.
        2. Prohibit trucks.
        3. Require State or Local Government Workers.
          • The numerous supply of clerks and supervisors is the obvious labor pool.
        4. Workers should be in vehicles.
        5. All vehicles should be passing traffic vehicles.
          • Passing traffic vehicles are slightly less dangerous than construction vehicles.
          • Workers are more dangerous than non-workers.

        Thus, government clerks and supervisors should do construction work in automobiles. Non-workers are less dangerous than workers, thus the automobiles should be those of passerby. Non-workers on foot are not a problem. As eliminating backing vehicles removes 51% of the problem, workers should get in to vehicles of passerby, drive those vehicles forward while completing tasks, then return the vehicle to the non-worker who has walked through construction zone.

    • by Trailwalker (648636) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:16AM (#9006751)
      There is no exageration about the deadliness of hightway work site accidents. Open and closing lanes is very dangerous - there is a small number of motorists who think that flaggers are there just to annoy them.

      Some observations from a former flagger.

      Every female with a drooling brat in school believes that nothing should stop her from picking up little Damien and taking him home to torture the new cat.

      A coworker pointed out that our signs have words on them. This confuses motorists.

      Most localities seem to have a tax on turn signal usage. Therefore, most motorists never use them. If they do use them, they are going straight anyway.

      Elderly people have tunnel vision. They will never see the flagger at the side of the road.

      From personal observation: An 80,000 lb haulers rig will stop a motorist who runs past a flagger station. So will any large yellow machine with CAT printed on its side.
    • The project will reduce the need for expensive no-skill workers and redirect the money to electronic engineers, designers, and technicians.

      All great advances in electronics start as weird ideas and then advance to 'solutions in search of a problem'.
      There has always been a point where the proponents and developers realize that they have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to develop something that could have been done much simpler and easier with human workers. This nadir is almost always
    • Even worse, I think it could be a real hazard to drivers.

      Right now, if a construction worker is setting up or moving cones or barrels, an approaching driver will know the cones or barrels are about to move because there's a large person (most likely wearing a reflective vest) moving around near the barrels, and most good drivers will slow down and make sure they give him/her some space.

      Can you imagine what'll happen when you're approaching some traffic barrels and all of a sudden they start moving on

  • Avoiding Cars... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:46AM (#9006441)
    This seems like a great idea for spreading out cones in a lane that's already closed, but what's there to warn drivers that a usually-stationary cone is about to move when there's no orange-vested human picking them up?
    • by Dr Caleb (121505) <thedarkknight AT hushmail DOT com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:52AM (#9006499) Homepage Journal
      And what happens when you stop in the closed lane - then they suddenly have you surrounded because some worker has a really twisted sense of humour? :)

      • And what happens when you stop in the closed lane - then they suddenly have you surrounded because some worker has a really twisted sense of humour?

        I'd say that it would then be a good time to make like a Bond movie.

        "Hang on to your hat Martha! It's going to be a bumpy ride. YEEEHAAA!!!"

    • Re:Avoiding Cars... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pjt33 (739471)
      Presumably the idea is that the operator waits until the lane is clear. I must say the traditional approach of using a large vehicle with flashing lights to block the lane seems just as practical.

    • ...that the cone begins blinking its lights on and off, brightly, just before it raises up a few inches, floats over to its new spot, and sinks back down.

      Also, like the submitter pointed out, it's screaming EX-TER-MI-NATE, which will get the attention of any driver, except in New York City, where they scream that anyhow.

  • Uhhh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Paulrothrock (685079) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:47AM (#9006452) Homepage Journal
    I for one welcome our new robo-bollard overlords.
    • To continue my post: Is it me or do you just wanna run over those damn cones/barrels/card-type things? Your stuck in traffic next to a perfectly good road that's blocked off by those damn traffic control devices. And you just want to yank the wheel over, plow through a couple of them and take off.

      Maybe it's me. Maybe it's because I live in the land of perpetual road construction [state.pa.us]
  • by SmackCrackandPot (641205) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:49AM (#9006462)
    All you have to do now is replace these cones with mines, add some pattern recognising AI, and you have the Self Healing Minefield [darpa.mil].
    • by Araneas (175181) <pgillilandNO@SPAMrogers.com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:55AM (#9006531)
      Combine both. Self healing traffic cone array with a serious deterrant against not obeying the lane closure signs.
    • You don't need AI. You just need one of these [rctoys.com] and to put a little more processing power into the "mines" (the military is always happy to throw money at shit which will explode, they ought to just make a money bomb and get it over with) so that they can be a mesh network and do the pattern recognition. The system already uses image recognition to decide where the things should go, and it's not artificially intelligent, nor does it need to be.
    • You can have your self-healing minefield once everyone else can have replacement limbs. Minefields are a terrorist weapon that don't turn off and don't know the difference between friend, foe or civilian.
    • Don't give them ideas. We already have problems with tens of thousands of unexploded mines, so much so that most of the developed world has signed anti-landmine treaties (minus the US of course) that we don't need self-repositioning mines. All that would do is we could never clear a safe area from landmines without finding every single one in the field.

      It may be a good 'strategic' idea, but it is a despicable one from a humanitarian point of view.
  • by pararox (706523) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:51AM (#9006476)
    Personally, I'd be more interested in seeing the development of flocking road cones [halfbakery.com]. But that's just me :)

    -pararox-
  • Original Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by moon_monkey (323491) <elephantcrisp@googlemail.com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:51AM (#9006479)
    The original article can be found here [newscientist.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    vicious Gangs of "Keep Left" signs!
  • by NevDull (170554) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:51AM (#9006481) Homepage Journal
    Will there be a requirement for half the barrels to be standing around doing nothing, as per union rules?

    If they're deployed in France, how long until they go on strike?
  • by Mononoke (88668) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:51AM (#9006487) Homepage Journal
    Have they worked out a way to have one cone doing its job while 5 other cones gather around and watch?
    • Speaking of standing around watching, have they figured out how to build little blow-up State Police cars with working bubblegum machines, so as to fool the motorists into thinking there's a real cop nearby?

      Sure would save the overtime they're currently paying the real cops, several of whom seem to be standing around watching at any given time.
  • by Deag (250823) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:52AM (#9006497)
    From the bbc article the bollards move slowly. And I think if they worked well, it's a good idea.

    But it should just be the start. I want to see whole roads like this. Lots of traffic going to A? well we'll just move some of the roads going to C. I see lots of them like big snakes swirling around the sky relaying themselves so that our road networks are alot more efficent. We could all end up alot more lost, but what harm?
    • What harm? If I'm in a hurry to get somewhere and my route changes to make it longer, I'm going to have to drive faster to get there on time, which makes me (theoretically) more dangerous.

      There are cities in which they have a center lane which toggles direction at certain times of day, which is pretty much the functional upward limit.


    • Somebody's been watching too much Harry Potter and the moving staircases.

    • From the bbc article the bollards move slowly.

      And that, at least, is a plus point. Can you imagine the horror if they were fast? We'd have vicious gangs of Keep Left signs molesting motorists and pedestrians and...
      OK, stop that. It's far too silly. It started as a nice skit about old women mugging young men, but now it's just silly. And you can tell those are not proper Keep Left signs. Be off, the lot of you. And you, come with me. Now, something sensible and military: precision drilling. SQUAAAD - CAMP

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:53AM (#9006511) Journal
    That would suggest to me that it works wirelessly... Maybe someone will bring new meaning to the phrase "War Driving".

    How long until a bunch of bored slash-nerds g out and round up enough cones to spell PENIS on the highway?

    • Probably only slightly less time than it will take for the advertising industry to hire those same slash-nerds to spell out VIAGRA and thus invent a new type of mass-media advertising - robot cone hijacking marketing.
    • Imagine a flash-mob of mobile traffic cones.

      And then, imagine a beowolf...

      In Soviet Russia, traffic cones MOVE YOU!

      Aiiieeeeee!! Hot grits and Natalie Portman! I'm having a slashdot flashback.
  • Lawsuits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaHat (247651) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:53AM (#9006515) Homepage
    I can see the lawsuits now! Either one of these cones feels suicidal and it moves it's self into traffic only to get hit at high speed... or someone realizes that they are able to move and runs into one on purpose, in either case, instant profit for who ever hits em.

    It is similar to the old Q of if we had cars which could drive themselves... who is to blame when two computer driven cars get into an accident with each other.
    • All it takes is one clever hacker kid to devise the hardware and wrote the software to use these to their advantage...

      imagine a high speed chase and after the car flies through the construction zone the barrels instantly move into traffic in front of the police.

      Sorry, self moving barrels are a bad idea... how about a vehicle that can move them with a scoop/chute setup at 30mph?(~45Kph)
  • by Zerbey (15536) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:54AM (#9006525) Homepage Journal
    I can just see it now... a bunch of highly intoxicated students riding around on these and getting themsleves arrested. Sounds like fun!

    "Sir, is that your bollard?"
    "Um... no shir"
    "Are you a student?"
    "Yesh shir"
    "*sigh* Put it back will you?"
    "OK shir, thanksh you"

    (I had carried the thing for 3 miles by this point)
    • I was once followed for over a mile by the police to make sure I did deposit both the cones and the shopping trolley they were in, back in their respective homes.

      heh

      Troc.
    • I remember once stealing a cone on the freeway with a cop car on the other side of ours. I didn't even know he was there until after I had closed the door and was looking around, cone in my lap. Thankfully he didn't see me.

      I think our best "drunken acquisition" however was a car door we found lying on the street outside a bar we used to frequent. The reaction on our fourth roommate's face when he came home the next afternoon was priceless. As were the reactions of most people when they came over to our
      • "saw a dented white car door from a late 80's Ford Crown Victoria, complete with window and mirror attached, lying in the middle of our living room floor"

        Did you not see the sticker on the inside edge, near the tire pressure sticker: "If found, please return to local city police department".? Next time you drive by the local Dunkin Donuts, look for the police cruiser with the missing door.

  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:56AM (#9006539)
    What will happen when the drivers hit the cones? Will they strike back? I can just see having to avoid kamakaze attack cones.
  • Robots ? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mirko (198274) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:56AM (#9006547) Journal
    Why use robots when TOYS [imdb.com] did it so well ?
  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:57AM (#9006552) Journal
    Normal road cones weigh about nothing. (A couple of pounds of soft plastic. Designed to fly out of the way or crush down when struck by a vehicle.)

    Does adding an RF receiver and motors add weight and rigid bulk to the cone, making it more damaging to hit?

    It's bad enough if you hit one of the road cones with the battery-powered flashers on the top, but that weighs very little. I hope the folks designing these keep impact-safety factors in mind.

    • The barrels are usually filled with water and can mess your car up if you drive into one or a dozen.
    • The robotics portion of this device is in the very bottom of the cone and probably weighs about the same as a radio-controlled car (since that is basically what these things are, big ugly orange computer-controlled RC cars.) It's probably significantly less weight than the rest of the "bollard". (I wonder wtf the etymology of that is, if it's similar to botts' dots...)

      Er anyway the point is that the only way it will make the thing more dangerous is if you hit it hard enough to send it flying and the base

    • Actually, I was driving one time in Texas and there was this road crew picking up those small cones .. about half a mile down the road, there was a cone in the middle of my lane, tipped over with the gray/white bottom facing me. I could not change lanes, nor did I have enough time to slow down (65 or 70 mph) .. I hit the cone at 55+ mph and it ripped the plastic trim part that attaches directly below the front bumper (a rather sizeable piece) off. I was able to recover it, and it only had a small dent in
  • How this will be when some overly bored slob takes the controls and decides to play with traffic.
    rush hour just got a lot more interesting
  • Next step (Score:4, Funny)

    by boatboy (549643) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @09:59AM (#9006584) Homepage
    The obvious next step now will be for college students to steal them and make robotic traffic cone dorm tables.
    • Yep, you just have to set it up on a circular track so it doesn't go anywhere when it attempts to drive itself home.
  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:01AM (#9006602) Journal

    Remember the animated toys causing a huge pileup while crossing a busy street disguised as traffic cones?

    I can also see somebody hacking into the control frequencies for these things and pulling evil pranks, which may kill somebody.
  • by D-Cypell (446534) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:02AM (#9006610)
    ('bollards', for our British readers)

    The correct terminology is 'bollocks'. Also given the nature of the text it would be more correctly expressed using 'to' rather than 'for'. Also, as the US language is obviously derivitive of true english this terminology should also be valid in the US.

    So thats is...

    "Bollocks to our British readers"

    to which the clear and obvious response is..

    "Bollocks to you too..."

    • by REBloomfield (550182) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:12AM (#9006718)
      Who in the hell modded this informative?!?!?!?!?

      hilarious maybe, although from reading it, the correct British term would be 'traffic cone', but that's nowhere near as funny....

      • never mine the trafic cones ... here come the robo bollards !

      • Who in the hell modded this informative?!?!?!?!?

        Actually informative, was the mod I was going for. Its always fun to play with the language barriers.

        I had a secret wish that I would go to some tech trade show to overhear a fellow slashdot reader complaining that their Journey time was effected because "The M25 is covered with bollocks" ;o).

        BTW, this works both ways, I speak from experience. Entering a 7-11 in Florida and asking if this was a place I could buy some 'fags' really taught me how to back-ped
    • This is going way [OT], but "American English" spelling is basically British English circa 1776, not a a decaying version of the Queen's English as most of us in the UK seem to believe. "British English" is the one that has evolved most. Some words had additional letters added to them by typesetters who wanted to fill a line, and these spellings stuck. There is also an obvious European influence. Remember that in the 18th century there wasn't really such a thing as correct spelling, and English had only
    • ('bollards', for our British readers)

      What? That's an odd name. I'd have called them "chazzwazzers".
  • Perfect! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:02AM (#9006612) Homepage
    Steal a few of these, set them up in the street in front of my apartment to save my parking spot. When my car approaches, a RF sensor will tell the cones to part to allow my car to slide into the spot. Fantastic!

    • We could use this in chicago to replace the couches and lawn chairs more commonly used. They require manual labor to move out of the way.
    • A friend of mine has an uncle in new york, he manages to always have a parking space in front of his building with an unattached fire hydrant. Parks, puts it in his trunk (its heavy though) and replaces it when he leaves.
  • This is exactly what's missing in all of today's motorsports, robot barrels that can be controlled by remote computer or operator. And I really do mean ALL of today's motorsports, from the Indy to my local (sorta) Detroit Gran Prix and (closer) Flat Rock Speedway's Enduro 250's and Figure 8 races. Ok, so maybe they'd be a drag in one autosport... but they work for the rest!

    Seriously, I don't know why more things like this can't be roboticized, from garbage cans that right themselves and walk 'round to th
  • Can't wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nizo (81281) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:04AM (#9006632) Homepage Journal
    Anyone have schematics for these guys, so we can start thinking of nifty new hacks for them even before they are deployed? Maybe a helper 'bot to help my carry my groceries into the house.
  • stupidest idea ever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:05AM (#9006650)
    this is stupid and costly.

    how many regular cones get accidentally crushed by traffic? or randomly flung by bigrig turbulence?

    one "good" thing that is bound to happen though, is some Anonymous Coward stealing a few of them and hacking them apart and back together again (possibly even to try and run Linux on it?).
  • ...and I compete in SCCA Solo II autocross [autocross.com].

    These things're gonna give me nightmares...
  • I swear! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:08AM (#9006682) Homepage
    Officer, I swear those cones jumped right out in front of me!
  • It is nice to see that tax payer money can go to replacing endless cones that are used for driving target practice. Maybe they can flip them over and have them deliver ice cream on real hot days to all the workers sitting beside the road.
  • Obstacles in path (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Frambooz (555784)
    "We're designing the system in such a way that the barrels are very stupid - so that they are very reliable and inexpensive."

    The article mentions nothing about obstacles and how the bollards avoid them (obstacle detection? options for planning a path, manually or automatically?).

    Road construction sites (and even roads in normal condition) usually have holes 'n dents 'n stuff, so there's a chance of having one of those "stupid" cones run into a ditch or hole, fall, and roll on to a busy road. Besides the

  • I can agree with the bit about workers in harms way. A section of I-40 I drive everyday has been under construction for over a year. Just the other day I was coming home from work and there was a crew setting up barrels. As I approached the end of the processes I downshifted to jump into the other lane just as another worker ran out from behind a construction pickup truck with another barrel. I was about one second away from changing lanes into him at 50mph. I could never do their job - it requires that eve
  • Obviously these robocones come from the planet Remulak! -- I mean... France.
  • by argent (18001) <<moc.agnorat.6002.todhsals> <ta> <retep>> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:23AM (#9006832) Homepage Journal
    I can imagine the stories in Slashdot in a few years after someone breaks the security on these babies...

    "We uploaded a modified Linux kernel to the bollards over their radio link..."

    "With this patch, you can use any construction site as a Wifi access point..."

    "This patch makes the bollards engage in autonomous 'wild dog' car-chasing behaviour..."
  • Mmm. Robocones.

    Makes me want to stop by a Baskin Robots. (11111 flavors!)
  • Voice Over: And on the road too, vicious gangs of traffic control barrels.

    Film: Two vicious traffic control barrels with little legs attack a vicar.

    Colonel: (coming up and stopping them) Right, right, stop it! This thread's got silly. Started off with a nice little idea about automated road barrels and fatality statistics, but now it's got silly. The spelling is atrocious for a thread too. And these robot topic icons are pretty badly made as well. And those aren't proper English bollards anyway!
  • by jafiwam (310805) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:27AM (#9006875) Homepage Journal
    University of Nebraska graduate students reported that running up stairs was an effective way to get away from the defective traffic barrels, which chased after the students yelling "EXTERMINATE!! EXTERMINATE!" even though they original design did not call for speakers or any noise making capability in the robots.
    • I was wondering when the joke would be made.....

      Its a sad day though when even a 23 year old is made to feel very old because only one person managed to make a Dalek joke out of something that was begging for it.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:32AM (#9006932) Homepage Journal
    How about a Beowulf cluster of these?

    In Russia, bollards reposition YOU!

    This news makes it obvious that *BSD is dead.
  • and nobody knows the sorrow.

    How long will it take someone to hack these?

    Dancing traffic cones at curbside, anyone? How about traffic cones doing wild sufi raga dances in the middle of the highway at rush hour?

    Get to it!
  • and when will we get chased by gangs of "keep left" signs?
  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @11:00AM (#9007219) Journal
    I'm gonna have fun playing "Frogger" with those puppies once someone figures out how to exploit them :-)

    This looks like the next "helicopter bowling" waiting to happen. Not a good idea.

  • Doesn't something like this occur in Toy Story 2 in which the toys need to cross a busy street, so one of them hides under a traffic cone and rolls it into place?
  • Here [kibo.com]. (series starts here [kibo.com])

    There is no escape!

  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @11:52AM (#9007906) Homepage Journal
    and they were talking about doing this. A few different faculty were working on it.

    It was _not_ some kids thesis.

    I had the same reaction everyone here is having. "Who's going to buy a multi-thousand dollar traffic barrel ?"

    And the answer is..

    Somebody thats had to pay even _one_ workmans comp/disability suit because one of their crew got creamed by a car or truck at highway speeds.

    If you think about it, its a very unglamorous meat-space problem, but solving it with technology means working on some pretty slick stuff...

    which is sort of what the UNL CS/CSeng dept was like :)

  • Call me US-centric, but I can't sit here and read the word "bollards" over and over again... it hurts my head.

    It's like "mallards" and "bollocks" had a drunken tryst and gave birth to "bollards".

    So... in my world, "bollards" means "the balls of a duck"!

    I don't want to read about duck balls!

  • Just wait for... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi (197448) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @12:06PM (#9008058) Homepage

    Somebody hacking their communication protocol(s) to make the barrels:

    • dance;
    • align into patterns, such as those, that form words and slogans, when viewed from the air;
    • block the traffic altogether ("Italian Job" anyone?).

    That would be fun...

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