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AI Transportation Software Hardware Technology

New AI Algorithm Beats Even the World's Worst Traffic (vice.com) 130

"Computer scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed a new intelligent routing algorithm that attempts to minimize the occurrence of spontaneous traffic jams -- those sudden snarls caused by greedy merges and other isolated disruptions -- throughout a roadway network," reports Motherboard. "It's both computationally distributed and fast, requirements for any real-world traffic management system. Their work is described in the April issue of IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computational Intelligence." From the report: The Nanyang researchers' algorithm starts off by just assuming that, given enough traffic density, shit is going to happen. Someone is going to make a greedy merge -- something is going to cause enough of a traffic perturbation to result in a network breakdown. Breakdown in this context is a technical-ish term indicating that for some period of time the traffic outflow from a segment of roadway is going to be less than the traffic inflow. "We assume that the traffic breakdown model has already been given, and the probability of traffic breakdown occurrence is larger than zero (meaning that traffic breakdowns would occur), and our goal is to direct the traffic flow so that the overall traffic breakdown probability is minimized," Hongliang Guo and colleagues write. Put differently, "our objective is to maximize the probability that none of the network links encounters a traffic breakdown." So, the goal of the algorithm is this maximization, which reduces to a fairly tidy equation. It then becomes a machine learning problem. Things get pretty messy at this point, but just understand that we're taking the current traffic load, adding an unknown additional load that might enter the network at any time, and then coming up with probabilities of network breakdown at each of the network's nodes or intersections. Crunch some linear algebra and we wind up with optimal routes through the network. Crucially, Guo and co. were able to come up with some mathematical optimizations that make this kind of calculation feasible in real-time. They were able to demonstrate their algorithm in simulations and are currently working on a further analysis with BMW, which is providing a vast trove of data from its Munich car-sharing fleet. This may not be as distant a technology as it might seem. As it turns out, only 10 percent of cars in a network need to be driving according to the optimizations for those optimizations to have a positive effect on the entire network.
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New AI Algorithm Beats Even the World's Worst Traffic

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  • Does their algorithm account for those people who get all pissy when current GPS implementations route traffic through the publicly funded streets in their neighborhood, and put in speed bumps and other obstructions?

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @08:54PM (#54123945) Homepage

      publicly funded streets

      Funded and built for a certain capacity and maintenance schedule. Side streets are not built for heavy traffic flow and they require more frequent maintenance if they are used that way. It's not just a homeowner issue - it's a city planning and infrastructure issue.

      • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @09:04PM (#54124005) Homepage

        The city is responsible for ALL of the traffic, including the snarls that force people off the main roads into the side roads.

        If they fail to fund the improvements for the main roads, it becomes their responsibility to pay for the increased maintance for the side roads.

        No different than if you personally refuse to pay for a sidewalk and then get upset when you have to re-seed your front lawn after people walk on it to the point of creating a path.

        In other words, yes, the greedy, short sighted city planners have to pay one way or the other.

        And they should be yelling at the home owners to stop making things worse.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Sounds like someone is pissy he cant fly through a residential area at 50mph instead of the 25mph he is supposed to go. Speed bumps around here are no problem at all if you take them at or below the posted speed limit. The only people that hate them are the self righteous greedy assholes that speed through a residential area.

          • Wish our speed bumps were like that. Most of them have a hemispherical cross section and there's no way you can go over them at more than 10mph without complaint from passengers.

            • I mean semicircular...

            • They are also designed for SUVs to take at 25mph and my poor Miata has to crawl over them to not scrape. Hope you enjoy all the extra brake dust and exhaust from vehicles unnecessarily braking and accelerating through your neighborhood!

              • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

                Hope you enjoy all the extra brake dust and exhaust from vehicles unnecessarily braking and accelerating through your neighborhood!

                I'd be happier if they didn't cut through the neighborhood in the first place. After all, the road was put there for neighborhood access, not thoroughfare traffic.

                • Was it? You want private access, have a private road. If it's paid for with public funds and it's not gated, as long as laws are followed it's fair game.

                  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

                    Was it?

                    Yep, original planning accounted for thoroughfare traffic following the main road. Several neighborhoods I'm familiar with have closed off entrances and/or exits to fix the "cut through racer".

                    You want private access, have a private road. If it's paid for with public funds and it's not gated, as long as laws are followed it's fair game.

                    It's not private access, it's neighborhood access. For instance, I live in a neighborhood now that's constructed specifically so that all neighborhood roads are cul-de-sacs or loops. There are virtually no through streets, and for the 1 street that I know of that is a "through" street through the neighborhood, you win

          • Where I live we call them "traffic calmers" and they come in a bunch of varieties including speed bumps and sections of the road that have narrow winding lanes lined with noise strips and cement barricades, planters in the middle of regular-sized intersections, etc. What is replacing speed bumps are ramps where you can take it at up to 25mph in most cars, but you smash up the bottom going faster. Much better than traditional speed bumps that require a much lower speed.

            Most people like them. But another demo

          • Given the right suspension the bumps are less noticeable at higher speeds.

          • Each time I hit a speed bump, I feel a little more hollow.
            I hope we can eliminate them soon when self-driving vehicles become mainstream, before I vanish entirely...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Are you just as entitled as the drivers which ride my bumper through intersections (after the signal turns green), then start blowing their horns and attempting to blind me when I don't accelerate beyond a crawl for them?

        • The main roads are usually state (or even possibly federal) highways which the state is responsible for, not the city/borough/township.

      • publicly funded streets

        Funded and built for a certain capacity and maintenance schedule. Side streets are not built for heavy traffic flow and they require more frequent maintenance if they are used that way. It's not just a homeowner issue - it's a city planning and infrastructure issue.

        That's bullshit. Weather and heavy vehicle traffic are what cause roadway deterioration. A whole year's worth of car traffic on a residential street doesn't equal the damage done by a few passes of a plow truck, heavily loaded with brine that it's spewing onto the surface.

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          It actually depends on the road surface itself. Improperly laid asphalt which will hold up fine for 5 years on regular residential traffic might last less than 6 months in thoroughfare conditions. Throw in a few heavy trucks, and it could be a couple of months.

          You are right on the heavy trucks though, every time I see one of those "This truck pays $10,000 a year in road taxes" I think "Damn, we're getting ripped off". Why? Because 1 loaded truck does the damage of roughly 100,000 cars, and you're paying c

          • Meh, increase tax on trucks and you'll just increase the price of everything you buy in the stores.

            Not that I don't agree with the rest of your thesis, it's just that "user pays" government infrastructure is a fallacy. Governments just break up taxes so they seem more palatable on the surface, when in reality they just care about how big the pool is.

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

              Meh, increase tax on trucks and you'll just increase the price of everything you buy in the stores.

              Not that I don't agree with the rest of your thesis, it's just that "user pays" government infrastructure is a fallacy. Governments just break up taxes so they seem more palatable on the surface, when in reality they just care about how big the pool is.

              In this case, there's a direct user link. Will it increase the price of what you buy in stores? Of course. The money's going to come from somewhere no matter who pays in the end. Seems like user pays in this particular scenario would be the best and most equitable route. As a reference, just saw that London comes the closest in England to repaving their roads at the needed 10-20 year interval, at 23 years, and I can attest that is not often enough. Other places only get repaved as little as every 60 years,

              • I don't deny the link, I don't deny that people will say they're adding a levy or tax to pay for roads, but what actually happens is it all goes into government coffers and spending gets budgeted separately from collection.

                It seems like the only time you do get directed spending is when something is earmarked to pay off a vote, but it's got nothing to do with user pays either.

                Even toll roads tend to become a revenue source rather than a road funding scheme after the initial 10-20 years. (If they weren't pay

    • or about the kids that all most get killed by cars zipping by at 40-55 on a local street at some GPS thinks is an short cut? That is why some local streets have speed bumps.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Kids make really efficient speed bumps.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        But if a car is doing 25 mph and hits a kid, it's just going to tickle?

        I'm not having much luck finding any hard data on what the average car vs pedestrian speed is, but I did find that speeding is only a factor in 28% of fatal car crashes [corlessbarfield.com].

        If you're letting your kid go in the street because it's a residential street and the speed limit is lower, you're the one endangering your kid, not some guy breaking the speed limit.
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          You're the fucked-up idiot who deserves to be in a fatal accident. Doesn't have to be traffic-related.

          If you're driving 25 instead of 50, you're much more likely to notice a kid running out after his ball from between 2 parked cars and stop or swerve to avoid hitting him. If you don't care about that, by all means, drive 50 through a residential street and find out what happens when you kill a child for your arrogance.

          It must really, really suck to know you.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by Aighearach ( 97333 )

            grandpa, you've got some food in your neckbeard again, why don't you go back inside where its warm?

            • by lucm ( 889690 )

              Give him a break. I looked at his posting history and he's clearly going through a rough phase.

              Just kidding, the guy's a tool.

          • If you're driving 25 instead of 50, you're much more likely to notice a kid running out after his ball from between 2 parked cars and stop or swerve to avoid hitting him.

            If you're doing 50 instead of 25 you might be 100 metres further up the street by the time he runs out thereby avoiding an accident altogether. It works both ways.

            • I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but I hope you are.
              The only argument for having less accidents at high speed that is even remotely receivable is that you spend less time overall on the road (assuming you drive the same).
              And that's if you assume that every accident is related to external factors, independent of your speed. In practice, you will have more accidents at higher speed, because:
              * You have more kinetic energy (it is very, very rarely useful), thus turns, braking, etc are more
              da
              • I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but I hope you are.

                Not at all. Once you accept that the speed limit is just number, mostly invented by bureaucrats, then is not all evil. Yes there are negatives, but there are also positives too. eg Fatigue is a common issue on freeways, and too slow a speed limit is a contributing factor. Higher speeds have shown to reduce accidents in some cases.

                you will have more accidents at higher speed,

                Let's assume you are correct (you aren't but go with this for now), then the solution to safer roads can only be to reduce the speed limit. Ok we've reduced the speed limit, now I

        • by fgouget ( 925644 )

          But if a car is doing 25 mph and hits a kid, it's just going to tickle?

          E = 0.5 * m * v^2
          Enough said.

          • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

            E = 0.5 * m * v^2

            This is exactly GP's point. If E(25) >= catastrophic bodily harm, then E(50) isn't actually worse. If you went on to talk about braking distance in energy terms, citing the kinetic energy equation would make sense... but instead you opted for "enough said."

            • by fgouget ( 925644 )

              E = 0.5 * m * v^2

              This is exactly GP's point. If E(25) >= catastrophic bodily harm,

              Which it isn't whereas E(50) obviously is.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It didn't take long to come up with some data: https://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv20/07-0440-W.pdf

          At 60kph (40mph), it jumps to 50%. This study does have a fairly small sample size, but it was literally the first one I found, and reflects others that I have seen in the past. It finds that although speed isn't a big contributing factor to the risk of an accident, it is a massive factor in the severity of the consequences.

          Given that we know some areas have a lot of pedestrian traffic, and we know people

    • by JanneM ( 7445 )

      A speed bump is no obstruction if you're driving within the legal speed limit.

      Sounds like they should put up a speeding camera or radar trap in that neighbourhood of yours.

      • Ah, the great state of PA, where the state owns many of the local roads so the township can't improve them. Where the cops can't use radar. Where 80% of the traffic ticket proceeds go to the state...

        I've wondered about the legality of putting a license plate reader on a camera on my house and Facebook shaming people. Probably a bad idea.

        • I don't think legality is the major concern. Though it is probably well protected legally.

          If you can afford the required physical security, you can easily afford the lawyer.

          • They wouldn't dare - I know where their babies are. Most of them are speeding to a local daycare center to pick up their little snowflakes before the 6 o'clock deadline. Another idea I had was to take pictures of the speeders' kids and make big cardboard cutouts of their kids to place in the middle of the street.

            • They wouldn't dare - I know where their babies are. Most of them are speeding to a local daycare center to pick up their little snowflakes before the 6 o'clock deadline. Another idea I had was to take pictures of the speeders' kids and make big cardboard cutouts of their kids to place in the middle of the street.

              Now THAT is a really good idea! The cutouts wouldn't have to be in the middle of the road though. Having them off to the side would work - especially if they were accompanied by a sign asking people to drive as though their kids lived in one of the houses on that street.

              • Next task - try not to get arrested sneaking around the day care center with a telephoto lens...

                (My dad says I need to rig up a little skid on a mono-filament so I can make the cardboard cutouts dart out in front of the speeding cars. Too bad I have a day job.)

              • Those signs really crack me up! Like they think assholes wait to leave their neighborhood before driving like assholes? What?

                I mean, you're on a residential street. Assholes drive by faster than you think they should. It stands to reason that a lot of those assholes live in the same neighborhood as you already. Drive like your kids lived here?! WTF are trying to do, invite them to drag race in front of your house?!

      • It is a difficulty, even at leal speeds, if you have an awkward or delicate load. I've occasionally driven quite expensive equipment through back alleys and parking lots where speed bumps risked breaking my company's, or our client's hardware..

      • I'd like to introduce you to the speed bumps on the road in front of my apartment building. Speed limit 50kph, recommended speed 30kph, bumps that destroy suspension at any speed above 15kph.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        A speed bump is no obstruction if you're driving within the legal speed limit.

        I guess that's true if you're driving an offroad 4x4. There are speed "bumps" around here you actually go around the block to avoid driving over in anything less. The tops of those bumps are heavily scarred from those that thought, like you, ahh, I can drive over these.... only to leave a transmission behind.

        • I guess that's true if you're driving an offroad 4x4. There are speed "bumps" around here you actually go around the block to avoid driving over in anything less. The tops of those bumps are heavily scarred from those that thought, like you, ahh, I can drive over these.... only to leave a transmission behind.

          On the other hand, I have nine speed bumps on the road to my home, and sometimes I'm stuck behind an SUV that isn't moving. Because their car can't handle the bumps. Driven by the kind of people who buy spray cans with dirt to pretend their SUV has gone off road.

      • by CharlieG ( 34950 )

        Um, there is a local block that admittedly had a major speeding problem (through a park), and in the active section of the park, they put in no less than 5 speed bumps, about 50-75 yards from each other. The road USED to have a 30MPH speed limit, but was lowered (Like the rest of NYC) to 25MPH. If you take those speed bumps at even 20MPH, you WILL take out your suspension even in a truck with a heavy duty suspension. MAX you can take those bumps safely is 10MPH. Now 1-2 of them would keep you down to 25

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      yes.

      by putting some of the people to drive the speedbumped roads the main road will flow faster.

      of course it doesn't account for why the fuck anyone would take those side roads if the main road flows faster. thats the real flaw in their thinking - why would anyone take the slow route for everyone else to go faster?

    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

      Residential areas are lower speed because they're basically semi-permanent "school zones" with kids running around, riding bikes, chasing balls into the street, etc...

      Just last night a 4 year old nearly rode his little pedal car right in my path as I was negotiating between an oncoming car and a garbage can. Good thing I was going slow and saw the kid.

    • If I were to wager, I'd say their algorithm probably maintains a constant speed through curves and up and down hills with a suitable buffer zone in front of their car so that their car(s) dampen the standing waves that are the primary cause of traffic congestion.

      People could do this if they were taught how.

  • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @08:45PM (#54123903)

    They were able to demonstrate their algorithm in simulations

    So they don't beat the world's worst traffic, they beat simulations. Unless someone previously mastered the art of making immensely accurate traffic simulations this is useless.

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      No more useless than you. Not that you set a high bar for usefulness.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        Maybe instead of hiding behind insults you can explain how a simulation qualifies as "beating the world's worst traffic"?

        See, history keeps showing over and over and over and over (etc) that men are unable to make accurate simulations of complex systems. Case in point: LTCM, which had two Nobel prize winners and the former head of the biggest bond trading desk on its board. They went bust. That was in 1998, and obviously people don't learn because the same kind of shit happened 10 years later. And seeing ho

        • Maybe instead of hiding behind insults you can explain how a simulation qualifies as "beating the world's worst traffic"?

          See, history keeps showing over and over and over and over (etc) that men are unable to make accurate simulations of complex systems. Case in point: LTCM, which had two Nobel prize winners and the former head of the biggest bond trading desk on its board. They went bust. That was in 1998, and obviously people don't learn because the same kind of shit happened 10 years later. And seeing how the idiots at the Fed are driving the economy into the ground, soon we'll probably have another documented example.

          The point here is that those traffic guys didn't beat nothing. All they did was a thought experiment that, if implemented (which will never happen) will at best cause more traffic problems. Ergo: useless.

          I have to agree here. At the very least the simulation is somewhat flawed in that it seems that their algorithms were built upon having real-time and complete traffic data. In such a situation their algorithms can improve the situation. So it would work for areas that have a lot of coverage through traffic cameras, automated reporting etc. But other areas with less information will still end up being a nightmare.

          In areas with good traffic information, it would improve on Waze and GPS by only routing a c

          • by lucm ( 889690 )

            Years ago there was a fascinating study/experiment. They would put the subject in charge of maintaining the temperature of a room within a specific range, and the only action the person could do would be to press a button to cause an increase or decrease of the temperature; they could press as often as they wanted, but the change would only occur 5 minutes later. What happened? Basically everyone failed, consistently overcompensating one way or the other when they would see the temperature go up or down bas

            • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

              That does sound fascinating. Can you provide a link the study or any other info?

              I can't seem to find the right combination of search terms.

              There are tons of psychology and temperature experiments. Compensation/Overcompensation have their own meanings. There's a "placebo thermostat" experiment and plenty of "placebo button" experiments. We have the psychology of climate change, etc. etc.

              I even found instructions about how to use the thermostats from the psych department at UC San Diego!

              https://psycholog [ucsd.edu]

              • by lucm ( 889690 )

                I can't find an exact link but the experiment was in relation with the "Dynamic decision making" topic.

                There is a famous experiment/game called "The beer distribution game":
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

                Here's what an expert in this field concluded:

                Subjects generate large amplitude oscillations with stable phase and gain relationships among the variables. [...] Analysis shows the subjects fall victim to several 'misperceptions of feedback' identified in prior experimental studies of dynamic decisionmaking. Specifically, they fail to account for control actions which have been initiated but not yet had their effect. More subtle, subjects are insensitive to the presence of feedback from their decisions to the environment
                and attribute the dynamics to exogenous variables, leading their normative efforts away from the source of difficulty.

                https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstre... [mit.edu]

  • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @09:30PM (#54124155)
    Human stupidity will always overcome artificial intelligence.
  • ... crazy hobos high on heroin or meth jaywalking all over the place?

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @09:48PM (#54124235) Journal
    If you find a way to drive more efficiently, politicians will use it to put off road repair even longer, until the traffic jams are just as bad. For some reason roads are the things that residents get most frustrated about (and indeed, are even willing to pay extra taxes to fix, as seen in elections in California), and yet they are the thing that politicians most would like to delay fixing. I guess that goes for transportation in general.
  • What would happen if all drivers (or a substantial number of them) use that algorithm? Will still perform that well?
  • Beats the worst? even the worlds worst?
    Im a 70 year old stuck in traffic in Los Angeles. and by Stuck, i mean stuck in the worlds worst. I was born in Inglewood, by which I mean i was conceived and birthed in this car. I grew up a strapping young lad, capable of passing drinks or fetching snacks at a moments notice. As I grew --and as we passed the exit for LAX-- my parents foretold of the one day when I would pilot this car. That day has come.

    my one wish before I die --assuming I can merge-- is t
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      my one wish before I die --assuming I can merge-- is to see the second sign for the exit to interstate 10. Could this app be the miracle ive prayed for between prayers for the sweet release of death? I sure hope so.

      Fear not, my friend, for I have heard tales of a land beyond the jam—a mythical place called the O.C.—where giant mice and princesses roam the streets and the terrors of Hollyweird are but a distant memory. But to get there, you must turn left now, for your current path leads only to

  • Soylent Green...is cars!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cannot be repealed. So the improvement in traffic will encourage more people to drive instead of WFH or carpooling or finding alternative transportation, until you have the same gridlock with more vehicles on the road than pre-AI.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      There exists a point at which everyone is already driving their individual vehicles and no additional capacity is needed. Once reached, no further worsening is realistically possible without attracting more people to the area....

      • Wait, you don't think I can program rich people's second and third cars to self-drive behind him and rejoin the pack using GPS if separated? You think 1 car per person is some sort of hard limit?!

  • by _Shorty-dammit ( 555739 ) on Monday March 27, 2017 @10:30PM (#54124369)

    Nice. Add to Waze. Next.

  • .... It fixes Bangalore Traffic.

  • All kinds of efficiencies can be obtained if you drive through living rooms.
  • Computer networks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by homb ( 82455 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @02:48AM (#54125167)

    I wonder how well this would work for computer networks. Handling flash congestions is a very big issue in networks. Those congestions propagate and bring down whole swathes of network areas, just like traffic jams.

    I've always made it a rule to keep node usage below 30% capacity to handle such congestions gracefully, but with a more optimal system we could increase that number and thus make the whole system more cost efficient.

    • Handling flash congestions is a very big issue in networks. Those congestions propagate and bring down whole swathes of network areas, just like traffic jams.

      Really? I spent years managing networks and never had this issue. I'd be interested in knowing how this could happen outside of DDOS type events.

      • by homb ( 82455 )

        Handling flash congestions is a very big issue in networks. Those congestions propagate and bring down whole swathes of network areas, just like traffic jams.

        Really? I spent years managing networks and never had this issue. I'd be interested in knowing how this could happen outside of DDOS type events.

        Think of not only switch capabilities, but also computer nodes (CPU utilization, etc....). Every piece of the network has a capacity.

        • Think of not only switch capabilities, but also computer nodes (CPU utilization, etc....). Every piece of the network has a capacity.

          Don't worry, I'm very familiar with such things. I've still never seen "whole swathes of network" brought down due to congestion like roads are. And there's a reason for that. If we use data networks as an analogy for traffic, we'd be trying to push data from 1 million nodes across a fully meshed 1kbps peer to peer fabric.
          No amount of smarts will fix that because there simply isn't enough bandwidth to begin with.

  • i think fix bangllore http://www.stylecollects.com/b... [stylecollects.com]
  • banglore traffic http://pakshatworl.com/google-... [pakshatworl.com]
  • I already work to normalize the traffic I drive in and if AI did this too in place of just a small percentage of bad drivers we would all benefit. It generally does not help me get to my destination quicker, but does help but all the people in traffic behind me. When I notice bad drivers engaging in start stop traffic in front of me I start leaving a expanding and contracting gap between the car in front and work to keep my car always moving at a constant speed that does not necessitate hitting the brak

    • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2017 @04:20AM (#54125415) Homepage
      One of the main causes of traffic jams, at least in heavy traffic on interstates and major four-lanes, is somebody simply touching his brakes. Then the car behind him, not knowing how hard the car ahead is braking, has to hit his brakes. The reaction continues back with each car having to brake a little bit harder until traffic just a dozen cars back traffic comes to a complete stop. I've seen it hundreds of times. Your solution helps, but it really helps if nearly everybody does it.

      Just never touch your brakes without a damned good reason. Turn off the cruise control with the button, not by tapping your brake. Don't ride your brake to control your speed.

      It helps a lot if you know where you're going. I've seen traffic jams started by people who have no idea which lane they should be in and no idea where their next turn is.
      • One of the main causes of traffic jams, at least in heavy traffic on interstates and major four-lanes, is somebody simply touching his brakes.

        The main cause of congestion is people who think they need to get around in a box that takes up at least 10 square metres of road. At any sort of speed that 10m2 turns into 30-40m2. It's simple maths, the car is not a scalable packet size for city sized populations.

        • It sounds like header overhead. The obvious solution here is to increase packet size, to boost throughput.
          Or yeah, in other words... car sharing or public transportation.
          I am not even kidding, look at the techniques to avoid packet collision in network protocols. Especially wireless ones.

          To answer the parent's parent: That's also why it's bad practice to always closely follow the next car, even in a traffic jam. Leaving a bit of space in between cars allows to smooth the effect of someone breaking.
          • It sounds like header overhead. The obvious solution here is to increase packet size, to boost throughput.

            Exactly! I have this discussion from time to time when people mention traffic issues, and when I mention packet size I get blank stares in return. 1 byte per packet is much less efficient than 3, 4, or 100 bytes per packet. It's why public transport is the only solution that can work in a large city. Larger packet sizes!

        • At any sort of speed a bicycle simply doesn't go (which is why they aren't allowed on major four-lanes). A motorcycle lacks safety, cargo and passengers. Weather puts an end to both of them. If cars and trucks weren't a "scalable packet size" then their use wouldn't dominate person and goods transportation.
          • At any sort of speed a bicycle simply doesn't go (which is why they aren't allowed on major four-lanes).

            The average speed on my commute to work (about 20km) is 18km/h (govt published figures). Most people can pedal that fast.

            A motorcycle lacks safety, cargo and passengers.

            Cars are safer than bikes, but buses are safer than cars. They also hold more cargo and passengers. Are you advocating we all should own our own buses?

            If cars and trucks weren't a "scalable packet size" then their use wouldn't dominate person and goods transportation.

            Er what? This makes no sense. Congestion is a real issue. Or do you think simply adding more cars will somehow just make this problem go away?
            Since we can't build more roads, the only solution available is making smaller vehicles (we alre

      • One of the main causes of traffic jams, at least in heavy traffic on interstates and major four-lanes, is somebody simply touching his brakes. Then the car behind him, not knowing how hard the car ahead is braking, has to hit his brakes.

        Well, he has to hit his brakes if he is tailgating. If you have sufficient distance to the car in front of you, you can eat up that distance while you make a determination on whether or not to brake.

    • I do this too when appropriate. I'll increase my cruise control at 5mph increments when enough of a gap appears.

  • I provide a simple solution. Allow less cars on the roads and traffic jams will cease to take place except for accidents and sink holes.
  • Does this mean that if we get to 10% usage of self-driving cars we'll start to see a big difference in traffic congestion?

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