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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2/21/2012 1:14:09 PM
Other than possibly being safer and faster, fuel economy improvement could be the largest benefit of an automated car system.
If engineered properly, with all variables accounted for, cars should almost never have to stop. Top speeds would be greatly reduced, but total transit times could still be decreased, and total breaking would hardly ever be necessary. Drafting could also be used to further increase fuel mileage
Safety could be achieved (eventually) - but we would have to give up our independence to drive ourselves, a social engineering feat that may take far longer to achieve.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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