Could “Virtual Stoplights” On Your Windshield Ever Become A Reality?

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Researchers claim to have found a novel way of reducing commuting times.

As all of you who drive are well aware, there is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in traffic. Well, the solution may have been found by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Traffic jam killer

The team behind the research claims that commuting times could be reduced by 40%, by replacing street-based traffic lights with virtual ones.

“With this technology, traffic lights will be created on demand when [two cars] are trying to cross this intersection, and they will be turned down as soon as we don’t need it,” said Ozan Tonguz, a professor at the university, who worked on the development of the technology.

The team has developed a system of virtual traffic lights which appear on the dashboard of your car, displaying red or green arrows which indicate which direction you can safely drive in. The big difference between the new system and traditional traffic lights is that the virtual stoplights disappear after you have safely navigated the junction.

According to the developers there are various benefits of virtual traffic lights, including reduced carbon emissions, fewer accidents as well as reducing those seemingly interminable hours that so many of us spend sat in traffic.

Virtual stoplights: Government initiative

Communication between cars may seem to be the stuff of science fiction, but in fact the U.S. Government is implementing a vehicle-to-vehicle communication program. The program will make the connected vehicle technology used in the virtual stoplights mandatory for new cars.

“Our solution leverages this capability,” says Tonguz. “Since cars can talk to each other, we can manage the traffic control at intersections without infrastructure-based traffic lights.”

Although the technology would indeed reduce commuting times if it is installed on every car on the road, it would appear that Tonguz has a more profound take on the impact that the virtual stoplights could have.

“It’s almost like we are giving additional life to people,” says Tonguz. “Life that is wasted on the road.”


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