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Automatic Landing Systems for Small Airports

The team's modified Diamond DA42 aircraft uses the system to make an automatic landing
The team’s modified Diamond DA42 aircraft uses the system to make an automatic landing(Credit: Technical University of Munich)

Big commercial aircraft are already routinely guided in for automatic landings at large airports, as their autopilot follows radio signals transmitted by ground-based antennas. Such auto-landings currently aren’t possible at most small airports, although that could be about to change, thanks to a new German-designed system. read more

Anyone Interested in the VMT?

by: Tim Brown & the Common Constitutionalist

It never ceases to amaze me how government can come up with new ways to milk people of their money, but find it impossible to cut their spending.

 Such is a new method that states are trying to come up with by tracking the mileage on your car and taxing it appropriately.

The new technology is already being explored by Minnesota and Oregon. The GPS-like box would be mounted inside a person’s vehicle and they can purchase “miles” ahead of time.

 “As the (national vehicle) fleet becomes more fuel efficient … we’re going to lose a lot of revenue from the gas tax. If it’s not replaced, we’re going to see our transportation infrastructure deteriorate,” says Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C.

He expects to see a state vehicle miles-traveled (VMT) tax within the next 5 to 10 years.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in VMT as one of the potential solutions to transportation funding gaps that states are dealing with,” says Jaime Rall, senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many say the greatest obstacle to a miles-traveled tax has been privacy concerns. When Oregon ran a pilot program six years ago, motorists’ major objection was to in-vehicle boxes used to track miles driven, said James Whitty of the Oregon Department of Transportation. “They didn’t like the government boxes. They didn’t like the GPS mandate,” he says.

Of those 2 words, GPS and mandate, my guess is they objected more to ‘mandate’.

So let’s see if I have this right. In most states, we purchase a vehicle and pay a tax to either the city or town & the state. Then we must register it; another tax. Then we buy gas for it and pay tax on the gas. We then pay a toll to drive on the road; that’s a tax. Now they’re going to tax us on the miles we drive due to diminished revenue because they have forced us into more economical cars with escalated fuel costs and bogus CAFE standards?

 Next, some state or federal bureaucrat will propose a new tax (actually more of a penalty) for non-mass transit users. An additional fee when you register your vehicle. By purchasing a car, it is assumed you will not be using mass transit. The intent of said bureaucrat is to nudge people toward the use of trains and buses.

 If the program has any success, the government will soon discover the revenue shortfall was caused by it’s own action & must then invent another tax or fee to subsidize that shortfall.

 This is what governments do. They constantly cause more problems than they ever solve.

Smart Shoe

GPS technology can help Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers, with the release of a shoe that tracks the wearer’s position and plots their position on Google Maps.

The GPS Smart Shoe embeds a GPS receiver and SIM card to send the shoe’s position to a private tracking website – helping to find people if they wander off.

With an estimated 5 million sufferers in the U.S., manufacturer Aetrex said they wanted to use technology to enable extra support.

The shoes are available for both men and women, with either straps or shoelaces, and sell for around $300 a pair, with a monthly service plan of $30.

The transmitter is embedded in the base of the right heel and tracks the user’s location in real time, sending that data at specified intervals to a central monitoring station.

If the wearer ever leaves a specified zone, the caregiver can track their whereabouts on the Aetrex website, which uses Google Maps to plot the position.

When the wearer wanders off wearing the GPS Shoe, their caregiver will immediately receive a geo-fence alert on their smartphone and computer, with a direct link to a Google map plotting the wanderer’s location.

The company is also talking to various Alzheimer associations to explore various partnerships.

If there is a downside to the technology, it is that the battery life of the GPS receiver lasts only two days – so it could run flat if no-one remembers to charge it.

However an email alert is sent to the caregiver when the battery is low.

The website AllThingsDigital asked Evan Schwartz, the company founder, if there was any risk to the product in terms of surveillance concerns.

He said: “It’s all kinds of good and bad and ugly popping up when it comes to GPS tech these days, and that’s definitely a concern.”

“There are enough people who make jokes about tracking a spouse, or what if you threw the shoe in the trunk of someone’s car and they never know it’s being used for that, that sort of thing.”

“But at the same time, this shoe has been designed to serve a purpose, and it’s to help caregivers, so we have a hard time believing someone would abuse this.”