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Virtual traffic lights help solve commuting hell

Posted November 6, 2012

Daily commuting from home to work and back home is quite a challenge in heavily-urbanized parts of the world. Public transport helps to solve this problem only partially, since lots of people have to (or want to) rely on their own cars. No wonder why scientists are trying to invent some other ways to cope with this problem.

One of the most promising methods to reduce incidence and magnitude of traffic jams is keeping a track of number of vehicles at intersections in real-time. Actually, this is not a new idea, but actual technical implementations may vary. Recently a patent has been issued for an algorithm which aims to control traffic lights based on the short-range vehicle communication technology:

Tonguz’s company, Virtual Traffic Lights, recently patented an algorithm that directs traffic at busy junctions. As cars approach the intersection, they use dedicated short-range communications to quickly exchange information on their number and direction of travel. The largest group of vehicles is given an in-car green light. Cars in the other cluster see a red light and have to wait.

As soon as the biggest group of cars passes through the intersection, the next biggest group is given the green light. Simulations over the past three years have shown the system could reduce commute time for urban workers between 40 to 60 per cent during rush hour.

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