Future Vehicle Intersections May Ditch Stoplights
February 21, 2012 10:02 AM
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Automated cars would call ahead and schedule a time for the intersection
Some major technology firms see the future of the automobile as a much more automated device that can navigate on its own without a driver. There are, however, differing visions of what those automated vehicles of the future may look like.
Google sees those
as needing no driver and being standalone with sensors and GPS capability to successfully navigate the roads that we have today without human interaction. Others see a more automated type of vehicle where the intersections and roads themselves tell the vehicles when and where to go.
A computer scientist working at the University of Texas at Austin named Peter Stone is working on technology that will help fully automated vehicles reduce traffic and navigate intersections safely. Stone believes that future intersections won’t need stoplights or stop signs. Instead, a virtual traffic controller that schedules when the vehicle stops and when it starts would manage automated vehicles.
"A future where sitting in the backseat of the car reading our newspaper while it drives us effortlessly through city streets and intersections is not that far away," says Stone, a professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Austin.
Stone is creating AI computer systems that will allow the autonomous vehicles to call ahead and reserve a space and a time at the intersection. An automated intersection manager would then approve the request and the vehicle and move through the intersection during its allotted time. The idea is that by scheduling these automated vehicles in such a way, there will be very little stopped traffic reducing traffic jams and allowing for faster transportation between two places.
"Computers can already fly a passenger jet much like a trained human pilot, but people still face the dangerous task of driving automobiles," Stone says. "Vehicles are being developed that will be able to handle most of the driving tasks themselves. But once autonomous vehicles become popular, we need to coordinate those vehicles on the streets."
University of Texas at Austin
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RE: Pedestrian interface
2/21/2012 11:11:00 AM
There will always be incidents where vehicles hit pedestrians. I think these accidents will be less likely with automated vehicles, but some people are dumb, nothing can be done about that.
Most automated vehicles will have obstacle detection methods. At the very least, the amount of data being recorded by automated vehicles should make it easier to tell who's fault it is, and if the obstacle detection and avoidance stuff is done well, it'll be the pedestrians fault.
For the signals, I'd imagine we'd have something similar to the crosswalk signals we have now, except that the button would actually do something: it would send a signal out to the traffic control network saying "pedestrian needs to cross", which would have the cars that would intersect the crosswalk automatically stop. The crosswalk and the cars could both be equipped with systems to ensure the pedestrian has finished crossing successfully before starting again.
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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