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This '3D' Crosswalk Uses an Optical Illusion to Slow Drivers

Crosswalks are meant to tell drivers to yield to pedestrians, but too often they're treated as a suggestion rather than a rule. If the possibility of hitting someone isn't enough to slow speeding drivers, two artists from Gujarat, India are hoping this sneaky optical illusion will do the trick.

As WIRED reports, Saumya Pandya Thakkar and daughter Shakuntala Pandya have teamed up to redesign the classic white-striped crosswalk to look like roadblocks jutting up from the street. To drivers on the highway in the west Indian city of Ahmedabad, the shapes will look like three-dimensional structures from far away. But the artists say the illusion fades as cars get closer, so it shouldn't lead to any motorists slamming on their breaks to avoid crashing into something that isn't there. 

Highway officials have experimented with similar 3D crosswalks designs here in the states. A few years ago, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation transformed the plain white blocks of one crosswalk by painting brightly colored shapes around them to give them the illusion of being raised from the rest of the street. Parts of Chicago have also featured eye-catching 3D markings since the beginning of the decade. There's still no comprehensive research about whether these designs are actually effective. But in India, a country where traffic-related deaths are on the rise, experimenting with safer road signage can't hurt. 

[h/t WIRED]

Header/banner images via Twitter.

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Wisconsin Considers Building a Highway Lane for Self-Driving Cars
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Self-driving cars are already a reality, as companies like Google and Tesla have demonstrated. But the logistics of getting them on the roads with human-operated cars have slowed down their long-anticipated takeover. In Wisconsin, highway planners are looking into one way to accommodate autonomous vehicles when they arrive. Dedicated lanes for driverless cars are being considered for I-94, USA Today’s Journal Sentinel reports.

The project is supported by Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech supplier building a new facility 20 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee. Once the site is complete, it will cover 20 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 people. According to the company, setting aside space for self-driving vehicles could ease traffic congestion, both from new workers and cargo trucks, after the factory opens.

Officials were already planning to expand I-94 from six lanes to eight to accommodate the eventual increase in traffic, but Foxconn says that may not be enough. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

While Sheehy said the autonomous car lane proposal is “on the table,” he didn’t make any promises regarding the plan’s future. Wisconsin isn’t the only state looking ahead to new developments in road travel: In October, tech investors pitched an idea to Washington state officials to convert Interstate 5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver.

[h/t Journal Sentinel]

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Ford Tests Exoskeletons That Make Overhead Tasks Easier for Workers
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Engineers have already developed exoskeletons capable of supporting elderly people and helping paralyzed people walk. But the technology offers benefits to able-bodied wearers as well. That's what employees are learning at Ford's U.S. factories. As Road Show reports, workers there are suiting up in upper body exoskeletons designed to alleviate fatigue and decrease their chance of injury.

Assembling car parts requires workers to reach their arms above their heads thousands of times a day. While most healthy individuals would have no problem doing this type of work for a few minutes at a time, the rate at which these employees are completing the tasks puts an enormous strain on their bodies. This can lead to back and shoulder fatigue, soreness, and even injury.

In an effort to make their workforce more comfortable and productive, Ford has been testing the EksoVest from Ekso Bionics in two of its American auto plants. The non-powered suits fit people between 5 feet and 6 feet 4 inches tall. The lightweight design provides up to 15 pounds of support to each arm without weighing wearers down or restricting their movements. According to Ford, the pilot program has contributed to an 83 percent drop in the number of incidents that led to time off between 2005 and 2016. And on top of staying healthy enough to go to work, employees have reported feeling more energized during their off hours.

The EksoVest has already helped workers launch several new vehicles, including the 2018 Ford Mustang and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Following the trial program's success, the automobile company next plans to test the technology in factories in Europe and South America.

[h/t Road Show]

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