By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Technology
Road congestion can be greatly alleviated if as few as 5 out of every 1000 cars were linked up.
With so many cars on the road these days, we've simply accepted traffic jams as one of life's inevitable annoyances.
But increasing gridlock isn't only a problem for drivers and their surrounding communities, it also affects entire nations as a whole. According to statistics from the German Automobile Club, drivers in the country experienced 185,000 traffic jams last year. This amounted to nearly 9 million gallons (33 million liters) in additional fuel consumption and an economic loss of over $430 million dollars (300 million Euros) every day.
However, with so much high tech communications technologies at our disposal, there's no reason to believe it has to be this way. A good example is a new feature that Google Maps' rolled out back in March, which can evaluate real-time traffic data and suggest alternative routes. Now a new study, conducted by German automaker Opel, suggests road congestion can be greatly alleviated if as few as 5 out of every 1000 cars were linked up.
The researchers reached their conclusion based on their findings that putting into operation such a fractionally small percentage would be enough to generate a reliable picture of real-time traffic flow. With this data, congested traffic, road works or other local obstructions can be spotted early and relayed to drivers to avoid delays and hazards.
“Location-specific traffic information and warnings in real time can help to remedy this (gridlock), while simultaneously increasing road safety,” explained Nick Reilly, Chairman of the Opel Supervisory board. "Less congestion means less wasted time, reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.”
For the study, investigators equipped demonstration vehicles with sensors and a communications system that enabled them to exchange data via local wireless networks in accordance with the new WLAN standard IEEE 802.11p. They were then tested on a trial route in the Rhine-Main region that was furnished with a traffic management infrastructure comprised of “roadside units” as well as a traffic control center.
At the end of a one year testing period, the results were collected and analyzed. The company says that the details of their findings will undergo further evaluation and be presented to the public at a later date.
The study was carried out as part of the company's Dynamic Information and Application for Mobility with Adaptive Networks and Telematics infrastructure or DIAMANT project.
(via press release)
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Jun 28, 2011
Very boring story. I thought it was going to be about cars talking to each other, debating their preferences for gas/ethanol/diesel/biofuel, making rude remarks about that unwashed truck with the oversize load, and shooting the breeze about that cute new model at the car show. I don't see this helping much. First of all, we have traffic jams because we have more cars on the road at peak times than what the roads can hold. Being able to talk will not lessen the number of cars, won't add another lane, won't add another mile of highway. Wizoddg, you have some good points, but (1) I don't believe lane changing is a significant factor in stop-and-go traffic. I don't stop when I change lanes and neither does anyone around me. The #1 causes of stop-and-go traffic is stop lights and stop signs; and (2) several of the benefits of this system won't be possible until every car has been converted...which will probably never happen. People can talk, and the sidewalks are still crowded in the big cities. Why is that, if talking solves the problem?
Freeways in particular are well mapped (gps down to cm) have standardized road markings and signage, lending themsevesf to simple automation. If cars can talk, they can move as a unit--safely at distances which normally will give a human driver a crash. Humans take far longer to respond, and the last car gets the braking information & such real-time, so the string of cars acts a single vehicle. It has many advantages: Little or no additional infrastructure cost--you might want some fixed gps sources inside cities and periodically on the highway. No single point failures. One car or a hundred failing will not affect the rest of the system. Add some active shock systems and sensors, and each car will "know" the terrain ahead and be able to respond to potholes real-time--not after you hit it, but as you go over it. Because they can travel safely much closer than 3 seconds required for humans, you can increase the save loading of a roadway many times over. Driver attention is not needed. In an emergency, the car could slow, pull off, without attention. You could SAFELY use the phone, computer, TV or sleep. The system is subject to incremental improvements, since the equipment resides in the car, as vehicles become obsolete only newer, more capable units are on the roads. In the same way, such a system as the ONLY such car, could still travel automatically. Because the computer isn't going to lane-change except as needed, traffic will travel faster (lane-changing is THE single cause of really slow stop&go traffic. Since the vehicles are owned, people tend to care fro them better than public infrastructure which rapidly gets attacked by rabble. It's also a lot harder and more expensive to build and justify the more extensive infrastructure w/o making it mandatory to convert all cars.
Just make it much harder to get a license to drive. It is just way too easy and it shows by the way people drive. It's clear that they don't know the rules and their skills are just really bad.