Connected cars ‘could spell the end for the traffic light’


After more than a century of service, the end may finally be nigh for the humble traffic light.

This is according to a new study from MIT, which explores how connected car technology opens up the possibility of controlling traffic flow in a totally new way.

Specifically, vehicles that are capable of wirelessly communicating with one another and the infrastructure around them could autonomously select safe driving routes, speeding up traffic flow as much as twofold, IT World reports.

“In the city of tomorrow, traffic lights will be replaced by intelligent intersections for controlling urban traffic, seamlessly knitting together flows of cars, pedestrians and bikers,” researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab said.

Their solution is called a slot-based intersection (SI), and involves the use of mathematical modelling to keep vehicles moving at a safe speed and distance from another.

Speaking to IT World, Carlo Ratti – director of the lab and co-author of the study – described this as “much more efficient” than using traffic lights because “you can make sure the vehicles get to the intersection exactly when they have a slot”.

Back in 2015, a report from Gartner predicted that a quarter of a billion of the world’s cars will be “connected” within the next half-decade.

This will make connected cars “a major element of the internet of things”, which is expected to reach a total of 25 billion devices and sensors within the same timeframe.

Still, this will only amount to one in five vehicles on the road worldwide, meaning we may have to wait a little longer for slot-based intersections to be feasible for everybody.

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