Researchers from MIT, the Swiss Institute of Technology and the Italian National Research Council are developing a traffic system to facilitate driverless vehicles. The system would allow vehicles to pass through junctions without the need for signals whilst avoiding any collision.
The new type of intersection they are developing is called ‘Light Traffic’. Using sensors, cars communicate with each other and are kept moving at a safe distance from each other (each car is given a ‘crossing-slot’ when arriving at a Light Traffic junction to help it pass through). In turn, on the approach into the junction, speed is adjusted automatically as vehicles are choreographed to pass through into each other’s gaps.
With this approach, the team have created a system that avoids ‘idling engines’, a giant contributor to city pollution by avoiding the burning of unnecessary fuel. The positive consequences of this system is a reduction in congestion, an extension of the lifespan of existing infrastructure and a reduction in the need for new roads.
MIT have described this (if somewhat prematurely) as the ‘death of the traffic light’. Let’s wait and see! In the mean-time check out the accompanying vid.