When Autonomous Vehicles Roam The Roads, We Won't Need Stop Lights

When Autonomous Vehicles Roam the Roads, We Won't Need Stop Lights

Autonomous vehicles are going to radically change how we get around, and as they become commonplace in our streets, we'll need to rethink how we design our roadways.

MIT's Sensable City Lab looked at this problem a couple of years ago, producing an installation called DriveWave, which is responsible for the above video. Simply put, with autonomous vehicles, intersections and stop lights will need to change, because cars will have the ability to navigate through them effectively, without hitting other cars on the road. Removing the signals and allowing the autonomous vehicles to pass through on their own would in theory make everything faster.

A recent research article, published in the journal Plos One backed this idea up, proposing that 'Slot-based Intersections' will be more effective system that will be able to move cars through previously congested areas quickly.

The study, simulated a Slot-based Intersection, reasoning that safety would be the biggest priority, and suggests that this approach to traffic could essentially double the capacity that any given intersection could handle. This would not only cut down the amount of time spent in traffic, it could also cut down on emissions by cars that are idling for long periods of time while waiting to get through.

The downside to this is that you really need to have a high number of autonomous vehicles on the road for this to work: human drivers would mess up the planning and render the entire thing useless, or cause accidents. And, with a lot of established infrastructure to change over, this isn't an overnight process. But, it is a good first step towards figuring out how to go about changing our roads when our cars can drive themselves.

[Slashdot, Plos One]


Comments

    Kinda leaving out one of the most important parts... pedestrians
    Will the future just be one giant game of frogger?

      we have to become autonomous as well. Our smart phones will control how and where we walk

        Smart phones already control how and where so lots of people walk...

        ...in a straight line, eyes locked on the screen, oblivious to traffic and other pedestrians and obstacles.

      Pedestrians were my first though too. Having pedestrian crossing lights at intersections will undo what they're trying to achieve. And what about cyclists where do they slot in.

    I will still be driving my car so...

    You just use your apple watch to indicate that you want to cross the road and it schedules you in giving you enough of a break in traffic to cross. Of course if you cant afford an apple watch you are stuck on your block.

      You are talking about smart roads, not autonomous cars. Who/what would your Apple watch talk to to organise a break in traffic when none of the cars are networked?

    Until us holdouts in our gas powered air cooled motorcycles ruin the autonomous future for all of you!

    No traffic lights fine.....Until the hackers hack the system.

    "With autonomous vehicles, intersections and stop lights will need to change, because cars will have the ability to navigate through them effectively, without hitting other cars on the road". Isn't the same true of humans most of the time? Sure, there are situations where lights help but I reckon that on 99% of occasions I could get through an intersection more efficiently without lights.

    The other factor is pedestrians. If those idiots are given free rein, no autonomous car will ever get through an intersection.

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