MIT Makes Traffic-Light-Free Transportation

Posted: Mar 19 2016, 6:06am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

MIT Makes Traffic-Light-Free Transportation
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Researchers at MIT have designed a transportation system without any traffic lights in it.

What if there were a system where vehicles would be able to communicate with each other and thus not have to stop unnecessarily at traffic signals.

A study was published recently which pointed the way to such a scheme of things. Via this methodology, twice as many vehicles could speed along on the roads than do so at present. The study was done by researchers at MIT.

It is essentially structured on math models. To have high tech cars use sensors in order to remain at a safe distance from each other was entertained in the repertoire of brilliant ideas generated by the human mind. The venue was a four way intersection.

"An intersection is a difficult place, because you have two flows competing for the same piece of real estate," says Carlo Ratti, a professor of the practice and director of the SENSEable City Lab in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a co-author of the study.

"But a system with sophisticated technology and no traffic lights," he adds, "moves control from the [traffic] flow level to the vehicle level. Doing that, you can create a system that is much more efficient, because then you can make sure the vehicles get to the intersection exactly when they have a slot."

Gone will be the long waits at traffic lights. Instead Slot-Based Intersections will lead to speedy transportation without any hitches. Normally intersections are pretty complex sites.

The two way flow of traffic is tough competition for the roads that meet each other on four consecutive points. However, a system where there are no traffic lights would allow for vehicular control instead of traffic control.

The thing is to ensure that the vehicles reach the point of intersection only when they have a rightful slot to fill and thus have proper passageway.

The system does not depend on quick vehicles. Rather its secret lies in having the cars move at a moderate pace. This regular flow of traffic allows each car to employ the intersection for the smallest possible time. It is consistent yet quick and according to protocol.

This scheme is based on the “slower is faster” concept. The example of passengers boarding an airplane could be taken to illustrate this.

If they slowly but steadily keep moving up the stairs, they will take less time to reach their seats than if they hurry. In the latter scenario, a bottleneck will be created at the doorway and so the transit time will be greater.

Also people who walked through a narrow space displayed this “slower is faster” approach. The whole idea is to slow the vehicles by a considerable margin before they approach the intersection.

Then when their slots have been fixed, they can increase their speeds slightly to pass the four way road intersection. This special transportation system would not only be operable at intersections but would come in handy at the road segments as well.

The paper, "Revisiting street intersections using slot-based systems," published in the journal PLOS One.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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