How many times have you sat waiting at a red light only to realize that there is no one else around, and you are essentially waiting for nothing? Or, you are in a long line of traffic and the person is too busy on their phone to notice the green light, and by the time they do, it turns red. These can be very frustrating times for drivers and are often unnecessary and can be avoided.
Audi has recently announced their attempts to try and solve these traffic light problems with a feature installed in some of their new models that will allow them to communicate directly with traffic lights. Drivers would see a little timer count down the time until the lights were to turn green or warn them of approaching a green light if it is due to change and whether they need to start applying the brakes.
There are others out there who are also looking to manage traffic with the introduction of a “slot-based” system similar to that used by airlines. This invention was created by a team at MIT and ETH Zurich and would work by an autonomous car’s onboard computer communicating with a scheduling computer based at certain intersections. The car would state where it needed to go upon approach and would be assigned a safe time slot in which to go through. The autonomous car would then speed up or slow down accordingly.
A similar idea to the MIT/ETH Zurich project was created back in 2009 where students at the University of Texas devised a reservation system for intersections that would allow drivers to book a time to go through. Last year, this team also came up with a modified version of the reservation system that would work with various type cars including those with no autonomy, regular cruise control, adaptive cruise control, or full autonomy.
Although Audi’s system is not quite so high tech, it is a start of what may be coming. Initially Audi’s system will be installed in Q7’s and A4’s, and the traffic light feature will be functional in around five to seven cities across the U.S. If this proves to be successful then we can expect it to hit more of our roads and traffic lights later on as well as extending the range of models in which the technology is installed.
- Revisiting Street Intersections Using Slot-Based Systems / Journals.plos.org
- Autonomous Intersection Management for Semi-Autonomous Vehicles / PDF
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