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Transportation Software Hardware Science Technology

The Intelligent Intersection Could Banish Traffic Lights Forever (arstechnica.com) 305

Jonathan M. Gitlin reports via Ars Technica: With a degree of coordination -- between vehicles, and with traffic infrastructure -- traffic chaos should theoretically be banished, and less congestion means fewer pollutants. Clemson researcher Ali Reza Fayazi has provided a tantalizing glimpse at that future, a proof-of-concept study showing that a fully autonomous four-way traffic intersection is a hundred times more efficient at letting traffic flow than the intersections you and I currently navigate. Because cars don't sit idling at the lights, Fayazi calculated it would also deliver a 19 percent fuel saving. Fayazi designed an intersection controller for a four-way junction that tracks vehicles and then uses an algorithm to control their speeds such that they can all pass safely through the junction with as few coming to a halt as possible. What makes the study particularly interesting is that Fayazi demonstrated it by interspersing his own physical car among the simulated traffic -- the first use of a vehicle-in-the-loop simulator for this kind of problem. Fayazi drove his real car at the International Transportation Innovation Center in Greenville, South Carolina, where a geofenced area was set up to use as the simulated intersection. Using GPS sensors, his car was just as visible to the intersection controller as the virtual autonomous vehicles that were also populating its memory banks. Ideally, Fayazi says he'd like to have tested it with an autonomous vehicle, but they are hard to come by, particularly in South Carolina. Instead, the intersection controller directly governed his speed in the study (as it did with the simulated vehicles), and this controller sent him a speed to maintain in order to safely cross the junction. Over the course of an hour, the intelligent intersection only required 11 vehicles to come to a complete halt. By contrast, when the simulation was run with a traffic light instead, more than 1,100 vehicles had to stop at the junction over the course of an hour.
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The Intelligent Intersection Could Banish Traffic Lights Forever

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  • Pedestrians? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:04AM (#54391605)
    Aside from the obvious pedestrian issues (which can be addressed by the Buddhist street crossing technique: just walk at a constant speed through the intersection), this is a pretty obvious solution.
    • Aside from the obvious pedestrian issues

      Foot bridges & underpasses tend to negate that one

      • Re:Pedestrians? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:31AM (#54391793)

        I don't know how many pedestrians are killed right below the foot bridges here in Latin America, but it's a lot. Good for you if you live in a country where people are educated enough to realize that the foot bridge is there for their safety. Here it's much easier to cut a hole in the fence placed specifically to force people to use the foot bridge, and play Frogger on the highway.

        But then again, sidewalks are advanced technology too. You always see people walking in the street right next to the sidewalk. Simply put - civilization only works when people choose to follow the rules.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @09:30AM (#54392273)

          Simply put - civilization only works when people choose to follow the rules.

          And evolution works when they don't.

        • I often suspect that the only reason deer and hedgehogs do not jump in front of my car on a daily basis is because the evolution "taught" the animals to observe the traffic laws.
      • Re:Pedestrians? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stomv ( 80392 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:37AM (#54391843) Homepage
        Written by someone who is fortunate to
        • not be in a wheelchair
        • not have a stroller
        • not be worried about being mugged
        • not be worried about being sexually assaulted
        • be in a community that can spend that kind of money on concrete, elevators, and maintenance
        • be in a community with the extra land near intersections required for the additional infrastructure

        This is just fine for situations where no pedestrians or cyclists are present -- access ramps to limited access highways, bridges, and tunnels, for example. But for places where people are legally allowed to walk or cycle, this is just a non-starter.

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      Not a problem everywhere. Where I live there are tons of untimed lights and very few pedestrians due to the sprawling nature of the city. The light could just have a button for pedestrians to hit that would initiate a real red light when convenient.
    • Re:Pedestrians? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:34AM (#54391813)

      Aside from the obvious pedestrian issues

      Very few pedestrians in most parts of the South where study was done, they probably didn't consider pedestrians. I've found in South Carolina, where sidewalks actually exist they're more for decoration than to be used. They're usually at a 30 degree incline slopping towards the road (and thus much more comfortable to walk on road rather than on the incline) or they just randomly start and stop every few blocks with no continuity, requiring you to walk through tall grass full of ticks (or the road) for half your journey.

    • by Tomahawk ( 1343 )

      Just read the last paragraph:

      "... There's also the matter of mixing in foot traffic, but Fayazi says his next goal is to make this research applicable to a mixed traffic environment, something we could see somewhat sooner as the smart cities movement grows."

      • What should be done is to create autonomous-only intersections to start off with. The first mention of self-driving cars, having intersections where vehicles could speed up or slow down to allow crossing at full speed would be a way to allow for fast travel without having to do expensive flyovers... just a four way intersection, perhaps with some mechanism to handle leftbound (rightbound in the UK) traffic. Then go from there and expand it to other places.

    • And what about the not so intelligent intersection that has a bug that paralyzes traffic for miles around? What happens if a vehicle decides to make a turn that it failed to tell the intersection about? What if the sun is setting or rising and vehicles are trying to communicate with intersection sensors directly between the sun and the vehicle? And what if a car that is supposed to zip through the intersection runs out of gas/diesel/ charge? How about those absurd vehicles that some folks favor thet blo

    • Aside from the obvious pedestrian issues (which can be addressed by the Buddhist street crossing technique: just walk at a constant speed through the intersection), this is a pretty obvious solution.

      So, he's designed a rotary.... (grin)

    • Automation is going to eliminate the need to ever leave your house, so there won't be any pedestrians. The entire world will be AIs and robots, controlled by humans from their little hives.
    • In addition to the pedestrian issue, they need to figure out how it will handle motorcycles, horses, buggies, and bicycles/velocycles, all of which are legal on roadways.
  • All he needs... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:05AM (#54391609)

    ...is way to make drivers drive at the mandated speeds. Which, of course, they won't do; you only have to look at how speed limits are obeyed to know that.

    • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:15AM (#54391677)

      Indeed. I'd like to see how well the simulation does with all of the traffic being autonomous and directed by the intersection controller.. then with, say, twenty-five percent of the cars being operated either by actual people or have the simulation take into account how people might react if there were cars weaving in and out of the intersection at whatever speed the controller thinks is safe. Then add cars driven by people who are texting, or eating fast food, or putting on makeup (either gender) or angry, or sleepy, or entitled adult-aged-children who think a car is a cross between a codpiece and a battering ram and who think right of way belongs to whoever doesn't make eye contact.

      In addition the simulation should include collisions, and the inevitable results of collisions involving other cars whether they manage to stop in time or if they just slow down to rubberneck, including broken glass, explosions, and screaming victims. I don't think we're going to suddenly all start using autonomous vehicles on a certain date, and the people who insist on driving won't necessarily obey any directives sent by the intersection controller. tl;dr: "Good against remotes is one thing.. good against the living... that's something else."

      • by Tomahawk ( 1343 )

        They do say that it's for autonomous vehicles...

        However, using that app (or something built into the car), it should be easy enough for a human to be involved. Yes, some stupid idiot will ignore it and wreck it for everyone, certainly early on. But hopefully the system can cope with that, maybe by having a backup set of traffic lights at the junction - just set them to red when traffic from that road shouldn't be moving, and green when it should. People already, mostly, obey traffic lights (except for cy

        • Too many human drivers can't even efficiently navigate a traffic circle. I can't imagine this could be done until all vehicles are autonomous with the proper control system. That's not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

          If we can get to the point where all vehicles have that capabilities, this type of intersections becomes rather easy to do, and is just one of the many obvious improvements in traffic control we can achieve.
    • ...is way to make drivers drive at the mandated speeds. Which, of course, humans won't do; you only have to look at how speed limits are obeyed to know that.

      FTFY, to clarify that this solution is likely only achievable with autonomous solutions.

      And once that happens, humans won't give a shit. They'll be too busy watching Netflix or sleeping in the backseat to care.

      • I can see, long before autonomous cars being the only cars on the road, sections of cities being only accessible by vehicle, if the vehicle is electric and autonomous.

        I think we'll see "smart zones" within city centres that are limited to smart cars long before the majority of people are diving such cars. It will start in some progressive cities as a means to cut pollution and congestions and gradually spread to be the norm in most high density population centers.

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          This is my guess too. City driving is in so many ways easier for a autonomous vehicle to deal with. Roads are well marked, its small area so if you have to put in additional communications or markings for such vehicles you can do it. Speeds are slower, road surfaces are consistent, ie all paved, etc.

          Driving out in the county and back country offers a lot more adaptation like avoiding ruts that are to deep, driving thru the field past where the road is washed out. Pass the tractor after exchanging some w

      • ...is way to make drivers drive at the mandated speeds. Which, of course, humans won't do; you only have to look at how speed limits are obeyed to know that.

        FTFY, to clarify that this solution is likely only achievable with autonomous solutions.

        And once that happens, humans won't give a shit. They'll be too busy watching Netflix or sleeping in the backseat to care.

        By the time true autonomous cars are on the market we won't need to go to work, we'll be using VR offices, so most of the traffic will disappear anyway.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:08AM (#54391629)
    not CLEM-zun
  • There will be a random chance that a car in the middle lane will do an illegal left-hand turn in front of the fast lane and turn lane when the light turned green. One of the reasons why I don't like to drive in San Francisco.
  • No traffic lights == no red light cameras..
  • The problem here is he's not looking at the bigger picture. In a congested big city you would be simply moving the traffic jam to the next traffic light. In bigger cities the lights all have to be coordinated so that you don't end up with a backlog of red light traffic that extends all the way back to the previous traffic light. And then having idiots that get stuck in the intersection blocking cross traffic.

    Maybe it works in Greenville, population 100,000 but not in a city of 2-3 million or more.
    • Umm... so what? This is like saying don't build roads because inevitably people won't be able to get to the road.

      Anyhow, simulations like this have been around for decades, I remember seeing one in the 90s I'm sure.

      • The issue the GP is alluding to is what happens when traffic volume is higher then the max volume the intelligent intersection can handle, what happens when traffic is backed up to the intersection. Roundabouts are great until they reach their capacity then they don't work.
        • Most of the backups come from people coming to a complete stop, and the extremely slow acceleration for all but the front car once traffic is moving. That is, at the front light when there's multiple intersections backed up. You would greatly increase the capacity of those intersections, but probably at the cost of increasing the number of people willing to get on the road in the first place.

    • Greenville itself may only have 100k (don't know the statistic), but the city with all it's satellite suburb towns is closer to 1 million. That said, Greenville has much better traffic than other cities of similar size. Unlike most places they usually plan ahead and expand roads before they're needed, instead of waiting until 10 years after the expansion is needed.

      It's not "Small town America" it's "midsized city America". A lot more people live across the country in cities smaller than 3 million than li

      • by Tomahawk ( 1343 )

        With complete autonomy of the vehicles, yes, it should work anywhere. The controllers will all need to be interlinked and work together.

        One nice thing about complete autonomy is that the car can communicate it's intended route to the controller network too, so that it can adjust traffic to allow the car to proceed in it's required direction without having to stop.

        We've all marvelled at the amazing choreography in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl-3Kx7jr4g), but with full autonomy this could be

    • I don't think congested city has much to do with the outcome of the solution (if it is correct). If the algorithm covers and controls approach speed of every car to any intersections, it could clear up any congestion.

      However, I think the study jumps the conclusion. There are so many assumptions in the study that DO NOT and CANNOT apply to the real world.

      • 1. Every vehicle on the road has a connection to "Intersection Controller" and has no interference with their communication.
      • 2. The pedestrians move int
      • I can add one more. Position is based on GPS instead of some sort of radar system once cars are in range - at least in the demo. GPS is somewhat accurate on the open road, but Google Maps gives an impression of much higher accuracy than is really possible in a moving vehicle. They snap you to the nearest road based on the curvature you follow compared to the documented curvature of the road (partly pioneered by this guy [fastcompany.com]).

    • The problem here is he's not looking at the bigger picture. In a congested big city you would be simply moving the traffic jam to the next traffic light. In bigger cities the lights all have to be coordinated so that you don't end up with a backlog of red light traffic that extends all the way back to the previous traffic light. And then having idiots that get stuck in the intersection blocking cross traffic. Maybe it works in Greenville, population 100,000 but not in a city of 2-3 million or more.

      There is a point where the road can't handle the traffic no matter how efficient the traffic controls are, but fully autonomous controls could greatly improve traffic even in those congested cities. At worst, they would minimize the windows of greatest congestion buy keeping traffic flowing as long as possible. There would need to be some algorithms that adjust for multiple intersections. In some cases, the answer might be stop and go.

  • Aside from the whole how do pedestrians and other vehicles with either non-functioning or missing telemetry modules, how will this be kept secure and without the possibility of jamming or spoofing the signals?

    • Aside from the whole how do pedestrians and other vehicles with either non-functioning or missing telemetry modules, how will this be kept secure and without the possibility of jamming or spoofing the signals?

      As an experiment, this is interesting. As something practical, it doesn't work at all. We can eliminate traffic signals by making it illegal to have any vehicle that doesn't have the required hardware/software. Are people going to have autonomous refit kits for their classic cars. What happens when there is a problem with GPS? There could be a prank/civil disobedience movement that could snarl traffic all over - jamming GPS is ridiculously simple. Not to mention, imagine a nation set up this way. If a war b

  • by BrendaEM ( 871664 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:20AM (#54391701) Homepage
    ...and motorcycles, and baby strollers, and delivery people moving boxes, and letter carriers, and dogs, and cats, and children playing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:30AM (#54391783)

      All of these things can be equipped with brain implants that follow commands from the intersection controller.

    • ...and motorcycles, and baby strollers, and delivery people moving boxes, and letter carriers, and dogs, and cats, and children playing...

      ...which damn near all of these "issues" can be resolved with an under or overpass.

      Also, there's a valid reason you don't find most of these issues near a freeway, because we're already smart enough to understand that certain thoroughfares are not well-suited and downright dangerous for such activity.

      • The thing is, freeways have a different use case to city streets. On a city street there's a destination every few yards, whereas it's pretty rare a van driver makes a delivery to the third lamppost after milepost 47 on the I75 Northbound.

      • You don't generally find traffic signals on freeways. This article is about junctions on city streets, exactly where you'd expect human beings to be crossing the road.
  • Traffic circles (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:21AM (#54391707)

    I've driven a bunch of times lately in Europe and its amazing how long you can go without ever coming across a traffic light.

    • Re:Traffic circles (Score:5, Informative)

      by amalcolm ( 1838434 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:40AM (#54391867)
      FYI they are called roundabouts, in the UK at least
    • I've driven a bunch of times lately in Europe and its amazing how long you can go without ever coming across a traffic light.

      Holy crap! How do the cities there generate revenue?

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Holy crap! How do the cities there generate revenue?

        Taxation, as far as I can tell. They get away with it because people in Western European countries tend to appreciate tax-funded services more than people in GOP-dominated U.S. states.

    • My town (northern AZ) is also mostly roundabouts. The automation described in this article would be safer with roundabouts, including for pedestrians, than having traffic hurtle through signalized intersections at high speed. It would also make two-lane roundabouts, which befuddle our plentiful supply of tourists, a lot safer.

  • This sort of optimization can work well, obviously, for traffic continuing through the intersection, but what about real-world traffic that needs a left-turn at intersections?
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:23AM (#54391727)

    But for now - as in, for at least the next couple of decades and probably longer - we need to allow for human drivers.

    For as long as I can recall, my region has had semi-intelligent lights, with pre-set schedules tweaked by data gathered from sensor loops in the pavement.

    Unfortunately, while that tells you if at least one person is waiting at the light, it doesn't tell you how many cars are coming, how far away they are, or how fast they're moving (though you could simply assume the speed limit for that last one).

    By adding in some cameras to identify vehicles that aren't yet at the intersection, lights could anticipate and change for optimal flow. I can't count how many times I've sat waiting at a light while the other direction has no cars... only to see the light start changing they come around a corner. A smart light would have seen there was no traffic in the other direction and immediately flipped to green as I approached resulting in a lot less car idling. And you wouldn't have to rip up the intersection to put in the sensor loops, either.

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:23AM (#54391729)

    Intelligent Intersections Already Exist, they're called "Roundabouts" or "Traffic Circles" depending on your geographic location.

    In most cases they eliminate the need for idling cars, they process much more cars per minute than a traditional traffic light, all cars can go through at an intelligent speed without the need for computers or artificial intelligence calculating algorithms.

    Best of all, it works with human controlled vehicles too. There's going to be a lot of them on the road for decades even if we have AI cars available to the public tomorrow.

    It's really quite ridiculous we don't have more of them in the US instead of four-way stops and traffic lights.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      North Americans seem to be too stupid to use them. There are three on the small island I live on. Even the locals can't seem to figure out how to use them properly. They work magnificently well in Europe though. Perhaps because the Europeans require more than passing a multiple choice test and tipping your examiner when you're 16.

      • North Americans seem to be too stupid to use them. There are three on the small island I live on. Even the locals can't seem to figure out how to use them properly. They work magnificently well in Europe though. Perhaps because the Europeans require more than passing a multiple choice test and tipping your examiner when you're 16.

        You must live in Bermuda. The drivers in Bermuda are... interesting.

    • by dmgxmichael ( 1219692 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @09:05AM (#54392067) Homepage

      It's really quite ridiculous we don't have more of them in the US instead of four-way stops and traffic lights.

      It's not ridiculous at all - it's a simple space issue. A round about takes more space than a simple intersection with a traffic light. A cloverleaf intersection is even safer and faster than a round about, but it takes even more space and also requires the building of bridge.

      Cities already devote enormous amounts of space to the movement of cars. They can't spare any more, at least in the downtown areas. Using round abouts more frequently in the suburbs would make sense though.

      • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @09:32AM (#54392287) Homepage

        No it doesn't.

        Large intersection, especially with more than the standard four directions, are the same kinds of size as an equivalent roundabout.

        The UK has MUCH less space that the US, I assure you, and we have roundabouts everywhere.

        Also, there's this thing called a mini-roundabout, for tiny junctions. It's basically a circle painted in the middle of a four-way intersection. Does the same job, just as effectively.

        Even large roundabouts don't require bridges or nonsense, and where they do (e.g. large motorway intersection), you already need ramped sliproads and everything else anyway.

        Go look at London. Our roads are tiny, they are surrounded by ancient buildings, the layouts are far from uniform, and there are thousands of roundabouts throughout.

        They also require NO INFRASTRUCTURE. No power, no timing, no signals, no monitoring, no more servicing than any plain section of road. You paint a circle in the road, or plant a large circular lawn in a big junction. Done and finished.

    • Oh..we don't do roundabouts in the states all that well. Not a day goes by, for instance, that some moron doesn't try to turn left in the local roundabout. Then, of course, there's the people in the circle that STOP for those waiting to get in. That's always fun.

      Roundabouts are great in principle, but your population has to be at least this...--->--- smart to handle them.

    • Best of all, it works with human controlled vehicles too. There's going to be a lot of them on the road for decades even if we have AI cars available to the public tomorrow.

      We have them in the US. While great in theory, American's -- excepting a small number of nutcases -- mostly loathe them. If traffic is light, they are an unnecessary nuisance and if traffic is heavy, judging the proper speed and timing to enter traffic flow is difficult and requires skills approximating those of a professional race driver. They also tend to baffle GPS which is a real problem when encountering one of these monstrosities in a strange town.

      They might, and I emphasize MIGHT, work well with f

      • Best of all, it works with human controlled vehicles too. There's going to be a lot of them on the road for decades even if we have AI cars available to the public tomorrow.

        We have them in the US. While great in theory, American's -- excepting a small number of nutcases -- mostly loathe them. If traffic is light, they are an unnecessary nuisance and if traffic is heavy, judging the proper speed and timing to enter traffic flow is difficult and requires skills approximating those of a professional race driver. They also tend to baffle GPS which is a real problem when encountering one of these monstrosities in a strange town.

        They might, and I emphasize MIGHT, work well with fully automated traffic control.

        I understand that Americans don't like roundabouts. I've lived in various different countries in my life, and I've noticed Americans don't like them. I put it down to unfamiliarity. They're not difficult to use, they're just "unfamiliar" to use. People in places where they exist much prefer them, because they do make so much more sense.

        If you're not used to driving on them, because you only encounter them once in a blue-moon (or even if you encounter them daily, but there are people on them who don't kn

      • If traffic is light, [roundabouts] are an unnecessary nuisance and if traffic is heavy, judging the proper speed and timing to enter traffic flow is difficult and requires skills approximating those of a professional race driver.

        I guess drivers in Europe (or at least Finland) are somehow super intelligent. Not only do we have roundabouts, we also use manual transmission. Only disabled people use automatic here.

    • Roundabouts would be incredibly efficient if we could get turning drivers to signal in them. Too much through traffic has to hesitate on entry because you're unsure whether the oncoming or side-entering car is going to turn. Automating this kind of intersection fixes the problem and would allow the roundabout to function at maximum efficiency.

      Automated cars and automated streets will evolve together.

  • by swamp_ig ( 466489 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:25AM (#54391747)

    Funny how this pops up and most of the comments are immediately pointing out obvious problems that everyone would have thought about. It's a proof of concept, and as a concept this is a seriously good one. Yes there's issues with pedestrians, and with cars not enrolled, but there's ways to manage and work around those. Intersections like these are the way of the future, as are autonomous vehicles. Driving a car is going to go the same way as riding a horse - a hobby activity not an every-day thing.

    • You misspelled 'HALF-BAKED'.
    • Funny how this pops up and most of the comments are immediately pointing out obvious problems that everyone would have thought about.

      I wonder how many of the naysayers have thought about the strategic issues? I've found the number approaches 0. I do know I would like an adversarial nation to implement this system. I suppose it's from my background, but the first thing I do when presented with a solution is imagine what would defeat it, the consequences of defeating it, and who might want to defeat it.

      It's a proof of concept, and as a concept this is a seriously good one.

      It is an obvious concept as well. It goes along the lines of autonomous car pooling with people being required to enter where they are goi

  • Road Neutrality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by techdolphin ( 1263510 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:34AM (#54391815)
    This is probably a bad idea. We know that eventually the roads will be owned by the corporations. The corporations will want to give preferences to businesses that are willing to pay more. Then we have a road neutrality movement. I have enough aggravation supporting net neutrality. Please don't add road neutrality to this list!
  • Pretty sure I saw this concept on the Jetsons already.
  • The city I live in doesn't even have the budget or ability to synchronize the lights with each other. Now someone thinks cities will be able to coordinate lights with traffic?? It won't happen where I live, not ever.
    • Synchronized lights can be bad if the timing is bad for the distance between lights.

      There is a stretch of about 5 miles I go to take the kids to school where, if I hit red for the first traffic light, I will hit EVERY traffic light. The time it takes to start from a stop at that first light and accelerate to the next light, is just enough time for the next light to turn red right before you get there.

      On the other hand, if I get through the first light on green, I won't hit a single red light until the very

  • Already working, no computers needed. Check out Ho Chi Minh City, old Saigon, a city of 8+ million people, 10 million motorcyclesâ, and about two dozen traffic lights.

    If you've never driven a motorbike through a high traffic unsignalized intersection, you should try it. It's said that one achieves a certain sort of enlightenment the first time one drives through Ben Thanh Circle.

    • Already working, no computers needed. Check out Ho Chi Minh City, old Saigon, a city of 8+ million people, 10 million motorcyclesâ, and about two dozen traffic lights.

      Is that intentional, or due to other causes such as lack of money or an incompetent highways department?

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:48AM (#54391923)
    Also, isn't this kind of what roundabouts already accomplish in a fairly elegant way?
  • What's this idling he's talking about? The switch to smart intersections will be slower than the switch to electric vehicles, so stopped cars won't be using nearly that much power. True, they may be running heat/AC and such, so it's not zero, but it's not the big deal that it was. Even hybrids shut off their engines at stop lights, and now some gas-only cars have added that technology.

    But that's just a nitpick. Obviously there's a lot we can do to improve intersections, and this idea is nothing new.

  • Than the rotaries our not so bright Governor put on Route 1/117 - the rotaries themselves are OK but without signage it gets fun.
  • All self-driving cars would need to add those LCD windows that can be made opaque on command. The software would block the windows when going through the intersection so the passengers wouldn't freak out.

  • I'll be long gone before this happens. I'm one of those that ENJOYS driving. I don't want any silly computer to take that enjoyment away.
  • When I was in university over 30 years ago I had a large collection of "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers", "Zippy the Pinhead", and "Fat Freddy's Cat" comics.

    I cannot remember which one it was, but one part of one comic had a way to change lights that was quite interesting. If more than one car is coming to an intersection and the light was red, you could put in money to make it change. The person who put in the most got it to change. Many times it would only take a penny, but if many rich people were in a hur

  • With a degree of coordination -- between vehicles, and with traffic infrastructure -- traffic chaos should theoretically be banished

    In practice, one faulty component - hardware or software, though most likely a carbon unit - will bring the whole rotten edifice down.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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