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A non-Newell question that will someday affect your Newell

My name is John Hart, I am a small business owner from North Carolina.  Several years ago I found myself constantly frustrated by wasted time sitting at dumb traffic signals.  I remember thinking, how can we have men on the moon, an international space station, and cars that drive themselves, yet here I sit at an empty intersection waiting on a stupid light to give me the go-ahead because it couldn't see me coming? Countless times I've been in a line of cars at a left turn light, me and 1 or 2 other cars didn't make it through. Then I had to wait for the light to cycle all the way through all the other lanes and come back to me, when if it would have waited a couple extra seconds the turning lane would have cleared. How many of us have been stopped by a traffic signal that was giving a green light to nobody, because the car that triggered the signal is already gone... It turned right on red? Wouldn't it be great if you were approaching an empty intersection in your big heavy Newell and before you even took your foot off the accelerator it gave you a green light because the signal realized there was no cross traffic. You get the idea. 

I researched the topic and found that over a dozen patents had tried to make traffic lights better, but all were based on cameras, and none had been implemented. Nobody had patented a system using Lidar, ultrasonic and other sensors like autonomous cars use to "see" in 3-D.  I run a screen printing and embroidery company so I understand the differences between vector images and raster (bitmaps) along with their computational burdens.  So I set out to design a system of long distance detection (from a mile away, in every direction, including hills, valleys and curves). A system that could identify differing vehicles and anticipate what decisions needed to be made in order to maximize flow through any given intersection in real time. After a few years of work with an electrical engineer friend who specializes in visual recognition software and hardware. we were awarded a patent.  I was so excited. I was going to change the world. I was going to save millions of tons of CO2 emissions and help national productivity. OK, that last one may be a stretch, but it's staggering how much time Americans waste sitting at dumb traffic lights.  My dream is to create a system that piggybacks on existing infrastructure and anticipates the constantly changing needs of traffic flow and adjusts on the fly.  A system that autonomously anticipates how to maximize the flow of traffic through an intersection, instead of reacting after a car rolls over a loop of wire in the road.  
That was 3 years ago...

I've contacted every player that I can find in the traffic light industry.  I don't have the money to fund a start-up but I'm more than willing to sell, license or help develop my system. But all of my e-mails and inquiries have been met with deafening silence.  All of the companies currently in the traffic signal industry are already making money and don't want their industry disrupted, or don't want the legislative trouble to implement a new type of system. Sports teams are using vector based imaging to track pitches, basketball teams use it to capture shooting percentages, several car companies use it for autonomous driving.  Yet every day millions of people waste their lives sitting at intersections because a traffic signal has no way to make decisions concerning flow maximization.  All the technology needed to revolutionize the industry already exists, yet we're forced for now to run over loops of wire buried in the ground.

My question to the Gurus is how I should proceed?  Does the idea simply need exposure through articles or trade publications, if so how do I attract technical writers (none so far will return my emails)?  I don't have the resources to build out prototypes.  I don't think it would behoove me to display at trade shows without one.  I've contacted all those I can find through internet searches as well as several technology freelance writers, but to no avail. 

We've all heard the old Ralph Waldo Emerson adage that if you build a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to your door.  If only it were that easy. All over the world there are ideas that could change our lives for the better, but the world cannot beat a path to something that it doesn't know exists.  Any advice on how to get exposure and how to get the conversation started will be appreciated. Somebody please help me... Daddy needs a Newell  Big Grin

Hoping to be a Newell owner soon
2018 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 38K

Hey John,

I love your idea but I haven't read anything about tests that were done in some real cases were you might be put up with a very uncomfortable situation were your invention can be blamed for, like a car going past the speed limit and granting right of way at the wrong time. Most likely you have thought of this situations but it might be one of things that might get in your way.

[EDIT] I missed the part that you don't have a prototype yet!. What about starting a kickstarter campaign?

The major one I can see is the one you mentioned, the established companies are very comfortable doing what they do because it just "works" for them.

I'm sorry I can't help you with your specific but I didn't want pass by without letting you know that I loved your idea. Wish you the best of luck!

1988 40ft Newell Classic
8V92 TA Mechanic
Allison 740 (4 speed)

good luck with your quest, but i will say i think it is a nearly impossible one. i have a friend who came up with a safety feature for railroad cars to prevent cars from hitting them at intersections. he poured his heart and soul into it for years. it was such a decentralized industry that no one took responsibility for it, even though the idea was one that he patented and all agreed would work and was a great idea.

i admire your thought process, but think that respectfully, you are trying to do something that will not be able to be done from a small player or almost any player for that matter.

i worked in the computer chip industry. do you remember when programmable thermostats came out for home use? do you remember it was a long long time after cheap microcontrollers were available to do the task. the issue wasnt the technology but how to get it adopted. the installers who did hvac were used to the round honeywell foolproof and simple analog thermostats. they fought the adoption of the computer like thermostats which delayed the adoption for years.

there are for sure systems with weight sensors, etc that can detect cars and change signal lights that are in use today. and most bigger cities have their street lights networked to a central location. but even then as you change city boundaries on the same road as happens in bigger cities like phoenix, they can and most likely are out of synch.

i also did venture capital for a number of years. what you are describing would be a hard sell to fund because of all the implementation issues and players involved.

my two cents worth and it was fun to think about i have to admit.....and my comments are probably worth about two cents.


2002 45'8" Newell Coach 608  Series 60 DDEC4/Allison World 6 Speed HD4000MH


After all the current, old vehicles are gone, we will have this. I think it will be pretty soon that not only will you have Autopilot like on Tesla, and SuperCruise, like on Cadillac. Once the cars are there, and they talk to each other and the environment, including traffic lights:,5&hl=en


It seems like there are lots of patents. I think that since computing is so decentralized now, that there will be quick progress. About the thermostats: I think they have taken off because of the iPhone and other decentralized platforms.

Hi John, Do you still race with Wera?

1995 # 390

Thank you all for your kind replies. I agree I have an uphill battle but I am encouraged that you found the idea intriguing. I was sort of expecting to get flamed. From the couple of interested parties that I've talked to within the industry, the largest obstacles to implementation will be the legal issues. From the beginning Tesla has had to fight to get laws changed because there were no laws that allowed cars to drive themselves. So it wasn't enough to invent something that could radically change the automotive industry... You have to change the laws of the road. I face the same challenge, which is way over my pay grade.

If I try a Kickstart campaign I can build a prototype that piggybacks on an existing traffic control for proof of concept. We would be able to show the decisions the signal made vs the decisions our system would have made. However, even if we can prove huge increases in throughput efficiency... There are currently no laws that allow it.

I just keep thinking that if I can get some exposure, someone with the resources to implement my patent will run with it. I'm not a patent troll, I want to sell or license the idea, I just don't have what it takes to push the implementation forward myself. Quite frustrating, but I am encouraged by all of your kind words.

Hello Keith, unfortunately I retired in 2008 after only 1 year as a pro. My wife had cancer and I never had the opportunity to go back. I was too old by that point anyway ?

Hoping to be a Newell owner soon
2018 Holiday Rambler Endeavor 38K

I think you have a great idea as well but also agree that you probably have a serious up hill battle on your hands.  As for getting flamed, on this forum you would have to work at it.  These are some great folks, always helpful and quite patient with newbies (such as myself).

Jack and Dianna Hunt
Coach #663
2003 - 45' triple slide

Here's a good place to start, for anyone thinking of looking into traffic light prioritization.


Seeking a 4-slider with steerable tag, probably pre-2007. 
Previous Newmar Mountain Aire owner.
My other RV is a Cessna Skymaster

I have spent My life in Heavy Civil construction (everything outside of a building). I have built about 10 intersections in the past 40 years. Some lights were triggered by Traffic loops, but more recently by camera. The Camera's were not set to read traffic in a distance, only 60' to 100' prior to the intersection. I'm only trying to imagine trying to have a longer distant for the Computer to analyze. The information was sent back to the controller on the corner, that read and recorded multiple items.
1) how often the cars gathered, in bunches or singles.
2) what time (Hr and Min of the day) they gathered
3) what direction they came from.
4) who was making rights and left turns.

Probably many other stats that I can't remember at the moment.

All that information was compared and analyzed for smooth/non stop movement of traffic, and then added to the traffic lights in all directions by an interconnect wire to traffic lights adjacent to each other.

This system was also programmable to cause traffic to move slower thru and area and "maintain" a 35 mph or what ever the Traffic Engineer required from his prior study.

These systems are very expensive to retro fit to an intersection. Most times curbs and medians are reconfigured at the same time, so these run $2 to $2.5 million to set up (2011-14 pricing). I don't remember the actual cost of the camera system itself, but i know they were much more and problematic to the loop type. I can get that if it would help build a cost comparison, but this will be regional pricing

These lights also allowed a subcontractor to implement "picture taking" of speeders, or red light runners Via a different camera.

All of my work was in Northern Ca. Traffic where there is a problem with horrible traffic. Small cities have at least 1 traffic Engineer, Cities like Oakland and SF have floors of traffic Engineers.  We have 2 hr commutes for only 35 miles starting at 4:30 am and lasting till 9:30 am. same commute back in the afternoon will take 2.5 hrs starting at 4 and lasting till 7:30 or so.  The SF Bay area needs traffic control engineers.  Most all of them do not reinvent the wheels. Most all follow Cal Trans specifications. Most Engineers will not want to take a risk of trying and recommending something new without a large Beta program and proof of no mistakes and the State recommending it.  The typical Engineers, errors and Omissions insurance (i don't think) is large enough, or typically cannot protect them in a multi car accident/death incident. Would you hang it out there if you were them ?

We as Contractors only installed what is specified. Contractors are not motivated to change the specification for something like this. What would be in it for them ?

I like what your thinking and If I can add anything else about things I can't remember anymore (lol), PM me and we can talk on the phone

Dave, Karen, w/Buddy and Moose. 
06' Newell #784
towing a 06' Featherlite enclosed trailer or
05' Featherlite stacker for toys and tools, 
or a 21' F350 Big Grin w KTM 300, & MTB
35' Packard 4 dr convertible
59' Nash Metropolitan
I like engines and wheels

Carpe Diem. Have Fun
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

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