Robots Declare War on Red Lights

January 17th, 2013 | by Michael Keller

Remember when our autonomous vehicles needed to stop for red lights? What a waste of time.

University researchers are creating a way for self-driving vehicles, now under heavy development by several companies, to zip effortlessly through intersections with nary a brake applied. Their idea is to build computerized traffic managers that would sit at crossroads like electronic air traffic controllers and direct approaching vehicles.

“If we put a communications device in these vehicles that can talk to our system, then we don’t have to use traffic lights anymore,” Hesham Rakha, an engineering professor and the director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, tells Txchnologist. “Just imagine—no more need to wait for yellow or red lights.”
One system devised at Virginia Tech is called iCACC, short for Intersection management using Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control. Another version, created by University of Texas at Austin computer science researchers, is called Autonomous Intersection Management (AIM).

Simulations run by Rakha’s research team have found that employing iCACC to direct traffic can reduce total delays at intersections by up to 90 percent and diminish fuel consumption by as much as 45 percent.

The Virginia Tech team’s latest findings on iCACC are being presented at the 92nd Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, which is wrapping up today.

Read more: txchnologist: Robots Declare War on Red Lights.

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