Autonomous Cars don’t Need Divers or Traffic Lights says MIT Study

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways March 22, 2016 17:26

Autonomous Cars don’t Need Divers or Traffic Lights says MIT Study


A new age of driving performance is in the near future as researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) plan to remove stoplights from the picture. Cars are then assigned a specific time or slot to enter the intersection and correct their speed and course to ensure it meets that time. “Rather than having humans obey the red, yellow and green lights, a central “nervous system” connecting all intersections with incoming autonomous cars would be able to easily direct traffic without worrying about accidents”.

While the system is in place to guide the car’s trajectory and cruising speed, the driver would still have full control of the vehicle, which means human error could still occur. Based on a mathematical modeling, the study shows how high-tech cars use sensors to remain at a safe distance from each other when they move along a four-way intersection. In the future, this could translate to a sophisticated system that directs and manages the flow of cars at an intersection, without the use of traffic lights.

“An intersection is a hard place, because you have two flows competing for the same piece of real estate”, says Carlo Ratti, a professor of the practice and director of the SENSEable City Lab in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a co-author of the study.

In just four years, most cars and trucks will be connected to the Internet, according to a report from Gartner Inc.

They want cars to be more self-capable of driving using sensor-laden equipment helping them communicate with near-by vehicles.

The technology literally allows drivers to “see” around corners and through traffic obstacles by way of V2X powered alerts, delivering information from other cars and surrounding road infrastructure (such as traffic lights and signage) to alert drivers and their vehicles to road conditions ahead.

The study proposes that officials will remove red lights in the coming years, and entitled the project “Revisiting street intersections using slot-based system”. Vehicles would also be moved through intersections in batches moving at an efficient pace.

This week, a team from MIT published a study in the journal PLoS One examining a radical proposal: Get rid of thestoplights completely.

The greater capacity of the system doesn’t come from vehicles moving more quickly but by creating a more consistent flow at an optimal middle speed, at which automobiles can keep moving.

It’s known as the “slower-is-faster effect”, as Santi and Ratti explain, pointing out that while slot-based design has appeared in other industries, it hasn’t arrived in traffic design yet.

Paolo Santi from Ambient Mobility Lab and Carlo Ratti from SENSEable City Lab are the brains behind the paper substantiating their work on a slot-based intersection.

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways March 22, 2016 17:26