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Author Topic: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump  (Read 3095 times)

cpzilliacus

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Sacramento Bee: California drivers: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump

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California’s iconic Botts Dot, the bump that warns you’re drifting out of your lane, has reached the end of its road.

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After more than a half century of service, the safety device created by Elbert Botts in a Sacramento lab and once described by a state official as a loyal old dog, is expected to be relieved of duty sometime this year. The classic white ceramic dot, a notable innovation in its day, appears to be a bad fit as a lane marker in the emerging new world of driverless cars that rely on cameras, radar and computers to “read” and understand lane lines.

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Although automated vehicles can be taught to “see” a variety of lane markings, including dots, federal officials and the vehicle industry say they want more uniformity nationally on lane lines. Given that few states outside of California still employ the original cookie-shaped ceramic Botts Dot, the writing is on the wall.
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 10:39:14 PM »

Sacramento Bee: California drivers: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump

Quote
California’s iconic Botts Dot, the bump that warns you’re drifting out of your lane, has reached the end of its road.

Quote
After more than a half century of service, the safety device created by Elbert Botts in a Sacramento lab and once described by a state official as a loyal old dog, is expected to be relieved of duty sometime this year. The classic white ceramic dot, a notable innovation in its day, appears to be a bad fit as a lane marker in the emerging new world of driverless cars that rely on cameras, radar and computers to “read” and understand lane lines.

Quote
Although automated vehicles can be taught to “see” a variety of lane markings, including dots, federal officials and the vehicle industry say they want more uniformity nationally on lane lines. Given that few states outside of California still employ the original cookie-shaped ceramic Botts Dot, the writing is on the wall.

For those interested, there's a pretty lively discussion about this on the Pacific Southwest board at...

http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=19469.0
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2017, 12:09:58 AM »

Wow, I've always loved the Botts Dots used out West, and I have always thought they were interesting. I never thought I would see them go, at least not this soon in my lifetime. I am genuinely surprised. I honestly am no advocate of self-driving cars, so this upsets me quite a bit. Snow plows can easily rip up botts dots, so if the reason of removal is due to high snow accumulation, that is understandable. But this? Oh well, it sounds like we're going to have to roll with the punches. When it comes to roads in some place like California, one of the most notable things that crosses my mind is the use of botts dots. Knowing that this will no longer be in existence will be a major change. I am truly saddened by this news.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 12:16:22 AM by adventurernumber1 »
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oscar

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2017, 01:12:12 AM »

What about those of us with cars that don't have automatic lane detection? Botts Dots are a simple, low-tech method of providing audible and tactile lane departure warnings, at least in places where snowplows are not needed. And keeping the existing ones around for awhile means we're not at the mercy of DOTs' (including county road departments) competence and/or money available to replace the Botts Dots with something else. Even if there were a need to phase them out, by the end of this year seems to me way too soon. Five or ten years from now, maybe.

FWIW, my current vehicles are 9 and 11 years old, respectively, and both get driven occasionally in Botts Dots territory.

I'm in Hawaii now, where Hawaii DOT uses Botts Dots everywhere (nothing in the state highway system is high enough to ever need to be snowplowed, though at least the highest segments of the University of Hawaii's road to the Mauna Kea summit observatories does get snowplowed and so doesn't have Botts Dots). I find the Botts Dots very helpful, especially to make up for the, uh, "uneven" quality of reflective lane striping. it will be interesting whether Hawaii DOT's general tendency to imitate Caltrans overcomes its typical inertia and tight budgets for things like alternate lane markings, when it comes to its Botts Dots. But FHWA mandates would be another story.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 02:17:18 PM by oscar »
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Pink Jazz

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 08:57:40 AM »

I also wonder if NDOT's Las Vegas district (which uses Botts Dots extensively) soon follow as well.
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MASTERNC

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 08:44:02 PM »

Think they were used in New Orleans on the Interstates as well (albeit I think there were lane lines underneath).
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adventurernumber1

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2017, 08:57:17 PM »

Think they were used in New Orleans on the Interstates as well (albeit I think there were lane lines underneath).

Hm, that's interesting. I've never recalled seeing them anywhere other than out west.
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2017, 11:04:21 PM »

Also, ADOT once used Botts' Dots until the late 1990s.  As recently as 2015 US 95 in San Luis south of Yuma still had them (a road long overdue for a resurfacing).
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2017, 09:20:23 AM »

Think they were used in New Orleans on the Interstates as well (albeit I think there were lane lines underneath).

Hm, that's interesting. I've never recalled seeing them anywhere other than out west.

They're still used a lot in Texas. I'm not sure I have seen them in New Orleans (except maybe in construction zones) but I will look the next time I am there.
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roadfro

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2017, 02:10:07 PM »

I also wonder if NDOT's Las Vegas district (which uses Botts Dots extensively) soon follow as well.

Valid question. I haven't seen any recent indications that this will change.

One observation: Many years ago, NDOT used RPMs for dotted lines on freeways (exit only lines), but in the last decade or so they have reverted these to thermoplastic. But normal broken lane lines continue to be composed of RPMs.
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MASTERNC

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2017, 10:39:11 PM »

Think they were used in New Orleans on the Interstates as well (albeit I think there were lane lines underneath).

Hm, that's interesting. I've never recalled seeing them anywhere other than out west.

Just went to Google Maps.  They're definitely there but they're between the lane markings (oddly).  They definitely sounded like the Botts dots when the taxi I was in changed lanes on I-10.

https://goo.gl/maps/V7FYRJdWK742
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hm insulators

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2017, 01:50:21 PM »

Aren't they maybe being a bit hasty (not to mention wasting taxpayers' money that could go to more important projects, like road widenings) about taking them all out by the end of the year? I could see phasing them out over a ten- or twenty-year span during repaving projects, for example.

I grew up with Botts dots on California freeways, so I'll definitely miss them. Maybe need to go to Hawaii for a visit if I want to encounter them again.
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2017, 10:40:55 AM »

Quote from: oscar
otts Dots are a simple, low-tech method of providing audible and tactile lane departure warnings, at least in places where snowplows are not needed.

Rumble strips cover those parameters these days...and don't require replacement after the snowplows come through...
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oscar

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2017, 11:46:20 AM »

Quote from: oscar
otts Dots are a simple, low-tech method of providing audible and tactile lane departure warnings, at least in places where snowplows are not needed.

Rumble strips cover those parameters these days...and don't require replacement after the snowplows come through...

Well, I was talking about places where it doesn't snow, the only places where Botts Dots are ever used (and I favor taking our time about ripping them out).

Rumble strips are pretty conventional to supplement center and edge striping. But I don't recall seeing them ever used on a multilane highway between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
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thenetwork

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2017, 12:37:50 PM »

Botts Dotts won't become entirely extinct.  The "dots" are also used off-street in parking lots and garages (primarily in the Southwest) to indicate lines and they are used as "speed bumps" as well -- like in the parking garage at our local university. 

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roadfro

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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2017, 07:23:10 PM »

Quote from: oscar
otts Dots are a simple, low-tech method of providing audible and tactile lane departure warnings, at least in places where snowplows are not needed.

Rumble strips cover those parameters these days...and don't require replacement after the snowplows come through...

Well, I was talking about places where it doesn't snow, the only places where Botts Dots are ever used (and I favor taking our time about ripping them out).

Rumble strips are pretty conventional to supplement center and edge striping. But I don't recall seeing them ever used on a multilane highway between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.

I don't think rumble strips will work quite as well as a lane line though. Rumble strips quite a bit louder, not only in the car but also in the ambient environment. So using them with lane lines in urban areas makes the road that much more noisy and disruptive to adjacent homes and businesses. Also, depending on application/design, rumble strips can sometimes have unwanted effect of "pulling" the car in one direction or another. I don't think this would be something that should be contended with on an urban street.
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Re: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 02:32:36 AM »

IIRC, Caltrans is the registered patentholder on the Botts Dot due to Mr. Botts' having developed the product during his tenure there (likely continued when Caltrans superseded the Division of Highways in 1973).  Patents are for 28 years, and can be renewed once at patentholder option; after which the design enters the public domain (with some exceptions).  It's likely that the patent has run out or such time is close at hand (2017-56=1961, close to the time the dot was introduced).  The cynical side of me might speculate that now that the Botts Dot isn't bringing in any $$ in royalties, licensing fees, or actual OEM product, Caltrans may well have decided to obsolete them.  And consequently there's no need to continue to use one's own roads as a working display, so to speak. 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2017, 03:06:45 AM by sparker »
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