Researchers in Michigan say that communicating vehicles would ease through intersections far more efficiently than they do now at traffic light-controlled crossings.
They say twice as much traffic could use our roads if we ditched lights in favour of cars that communicate with each other at junctions.
Tech Week Europe reports that a study co-authored by Michigan Institute of Technology researchers, based on mathematical modeling, claims “this kind of traffic-light-free transportation design would keep traffic moving smoothly as our roads become ever-busier.”
It says researchers examined a scenario in which vehicles use sensors to remain at a safe distance from each other as they move through a four-way intersection. By removing the waits caused by traffic lights, these so-called Slot-based Intersections (SIs) speed up traffic flow.
Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a co-author of the study, is quoted as saying, “An intersection is a difficult place, because you have two flows competing for the same piece of real estate.”
But a system with sophisticated technology and no traffic lights moves control from the traffic flow level to the vehicle level, he explained, adding, “Doing that, you can create a system that is much more efficient, because then you can make sure the vehicles get to the intersection exactly when they have a slot.”