Dec. 4, 2012 at 4:07 PM ET
When we leave the driving to the robots, they’ll zip through dangerous intersections more safely and quickly than human drivers, according to a civil engineer who wrote an algorithm that serves as an automated traffic cop to keep the robots moving along.
With the help of the automated intersection controller, the robot cars can move near the speed limit through intersections with only minor tweaks to prevent crashes, according to Ismail Zohdy, a civil engineering student at Virginia Tech.
The system takes into consideration the vehicle’s location, speed and acceleration in addition to weather conditions. It means cars won’t have to stop at intersections, waiting for a light to turn green or a gap in traffic that’s big enough to zip through safely.
“Keeping vehicles moving is also more fuel efficient and reduces emissions,” Zohdy noted in a news release.
Watch the video below to see a simulation of heavy traffic flowing through an intersection with the aid of the algorithm.
The system gains control of the robo-cars when they are within 218 feet of the intersection and determines the optimum speed for each vehicle within the intersection zone, keeping traffic flowing smoothly.
“The aim of giving complete authority to the controller is to overcome any selfish behavior of an autonomous vehicle and benefit all vehicles in the intersection zone,” said Zohdy.