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MIT: Red lights could someday be a thing of the past

Lucas Mearian | March 21, 2016
Without stop lights, roadways could support twice as much traffic.

At the Geneva International Motor Show this month, automobile electronics parts maker Harman announced a partnership with chip maker NXP through which it will demonstrate its “LIVS Connected Car Compute Platform.” The new V2X technology allows alerts to be delivered to vehicles from other cars and surrounding infrastructure, such as traffic lights and signage, to warn drivers about potentially hazardous traffic situations ahead.

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.

Even as the technology to create a connected vehicle infrastructure improves, MIT admits there's still much work to do before traffic lights can be eliminated. 

"In many cities, intersections with lights are often placed relatively close to each other. So how would the dynamics of traffic at one intersection propagate through a whole urban network of roads?" the study states.

"If you start from the intersection, this propagates to the city level," Ratti said. "Part of the work we're doing is studying that propagation."

Still, despite the complexities that might create, Ratti said the intersection-first theoretical approach to urban traffic will prove beneficial "because the intersection is the crucial point, once you solve the intersection, it has a beneficial effect on the whole system."


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