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Comment: Another way to deal with the problem (Score 1) 334

by NormalVisual (#48010903) Attached to: State of Iowa Tells Tesla To Cancel Its Scheduled Test Drives
While I support Tesla's efforts against these ridiculous laws, and would personally like to see them challenged and struck down, could they not just lease the cars through a subsidiary that would hold the title (turning the new car into a used car), then transfer the title after the lease period is up? Or are leases treated in the same way as sales, and prevented under state law as well?

Comment: Re:More common, and possibly unconstitutional... (Score 4, Insightful) 124

by NormalVisual (#47969073) Attached to: Before Using StingRays, Police Must Sign NDA With FBI
Never happen. A previous poster alluded to parallel construction - what will happen is the suspect's calls will be listened to, then another agency will be given a time, location, and a car to look for. The suspect's car will get pulled over for failure to use a turn signal or some such, at which time a dog will be brought in, "alert" on the car, and the suspect will be arrested. These guys *know* that Stingray-gathered evidence won't hold up since the device itself can't be examined, and that operating them is contrary to FCC regulations to begin with. They can't allow any information gathered from them to be introduced into court, so parallel construction neatly solves all of their problems.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with American drivers? (Score 1) 179

by NormalVisual (#47961185) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains
Yes, they are quite light. We have six-car trains with a capacity of 60 passengers per car, so the capacity is comparable, but they've got composite bodies over a steel subframe, which saves a lot of weight. They don't have to be really heavy since it's an elevated system with no chance of interaction with roadway traffic, and owing to their configuration, they deal with high winds quite well without needing the extra weight just to keep them on the track. Additionally, there are some grades on the system (around 9%) that would bring any traditional rail prime mover to a screeching halt, plus the trains have to be able to take those grades at speed (and sometimes accelerate) with only half the motors if needed. Top speed on our trains is electronically limited to 40mph, but to my knowledge they're physically capable of running well in excess of 60mph.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with American drivers? (Score 1) 179

by NormalVisual (#47958499) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains
Don't we have machine learning and adaptive control for that? These things should still be easier for a computer than for a human.

I'm not disagreeing with you. I didn't design the train control system. :-) There was so much on our trains that the drivers really shouldn't have had to deal with, and I found it kind of ironic that the Orlando International Airport terminal shuttles had more smarts than our trains. As of 2012, Disney had concrete plans in place to finally put automation on the trains, which I personally think is going to be a losing proposition on a fleet of 25 year old monorails with 1970's-era control systems (the vehicle on-board controller is run by a pair of Z-80s) and millions of miles on them, and at their age are already *very* maintenance intensive. They get tons of PM, but nowadays it's unusual for a day to go by without at least one train having to go back to the shop, and not a week goes by where one doesn't get towed.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with American drivers? (Score 1) 179

by NormalVisual (#47957453) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains
but often gets the calculation wrong because even though the system "knows" how much each car weighs, people sway back and forth as the vehicles slow down and we undershoot the platform.

That's good that it's conservative like that, but does it actually bring it to a complete stop short of the mark? There have been times when I've been driving a full train that it slowed a bit more aggressively than I would have expected, but it was easy to just modulate the brakes to hit the mark without stopping short. Then again, our trains were substantially lighter (about 50 tons empty, 80 tons crush load), so I'm sure it was easier for us to deal with the varying inertia.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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