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Researchers Argue For Smarter Traffic Lights

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traffic light

Credit: Go Complain on the Internet

Two European researchers have proposed using a combination of sensing technology, analytics, and networking to change the way traffic lights are timed. "Instead of waiting for a certain point in time before switching to green, we now wait for a critical number of vehicles [to be] ready for service at [the] maximum rate, which [is] given by the saturation flow," write Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich's Dirk Helbing and Dresden University of Technology's Stefan Lammer. The researchers say the approach could reduce congestion by as much as 30 percent.

They propose giving each traffic light a sensor so it will know when to change instead of being on a fixed timer. "In contrast to a fixed-time controller . . . the green times are requested only when there is definite demand for them," the researchers write. "The cycle time is not fixed, and the service is not necessarily periodic."

However, the researchers acknowledge that complete traffic light autonomy could lead to chaos, and they have proposed a dynamic control method that enables the various traffic lights to coordinate traffic flow with each other.

From Network World
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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