Imagine a day that doesn’t involve that agonising traffic jam on your morning commute to work! Wouldn’t it be bliss?
Well worry no more, new research from MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich shows how traffic light-free junctions and roundabouts along with a connected network of sensor-laden, driverless cars can reduce road congestion. The new system is so efficient that twice as many cars can drive on the road without any furious honking of the horn.
Using mathematical modelling, the researches show how the new innovating cars could reduce traffic congestions, imagine self-driving vehicles that would travel autonomously on roads without traffic lights to control the flow of traffic. Instead of red lights, cars could communicate wirelessly with other vehicles on the road, allowing them to travel at a safe distance without having to slow down for a traffic light.
This car-to-car communication would control the traffic flow so that cars can only come out of a junction or enter a roundabout when a slot is open for them to travel through safely. Cars would move slowly in small groups towards the junction and as they reach the crossing, they would then speed up to slide through the junction (something that would normally take copious amounts of stress, and a number of red lights before you get to the other side).
In these slot-based junctions, cars will move slower but more efficiently since they don’t have to stop. This ‘slower is faster’ form of traffic management is a well-known principle that already is being used to move crowds of people through building entrances, passageways, and other narrow areas.
In the model published by SENSEable City Lab, the traffic-based system is so efficient that it could support twice as many cars without any impacts on the rate of travel, claims the researchers.
However, we have found one down side to this new system, no more waking up late and telling your boss it is because of traffic!