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Researchers Propose Fourth Light on Traffic Signals - for Self-Driving Cars

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Researchers have proposed adding a white light to standard green-yellow-red traffic signals, to enable autonomous vehicles to help control traffic flow.

Credit: Getty Images

North Carolina State University (NC State) researchers proposed the addition of a "white light" to traffic signals to allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to help control the flow of traffic.

This "white phase" is based on the ability of AVs to communicate with other AVs and the computer controlling the traffic signal.

The white light would be activated when multiple AVs approach the intersection, indicating the AVs are coordinating their movement to facilitate more efficient traffic flow.

NC State's Ali Hajbabaie explained, "Red lights will still mean stop. Green lights will still mean go. And white lights will tell human drivers to simply follow the car in front of them."

The traffic signal would return to the traditional green-yellow-red signal pattern when the intersection is again controlled by human drivers.

In simulations, the researchers found AVs and the white phase would improve traffic flow and reduce fuel consumption.

From NC State University News (02/07/23) Matt Shipman
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