Invention of an alternative system of traffic lights
Invention of an alternative system of traffic lights

The first system of traffic lights began operating near Parliament headquarters in London in 1868, and was composed of a group of gas lights operated by a police officer, and designed to control the flow of vehicle traffic across the Thames.

In a related context, the experiment succeeded, at least from a traffic point of view, but the system did not remain for a long time. The lamps exploded a few months after their installation due to a gas leak, and caused harm to the policeman who was operating it,

Since that time, the relationship of pedestrians and drivers with traffic lights has been strained. It provides an effective, neutral system for setting road priority when working well, but it may cause traffic congestion for kilometers when it breaks down.

Therefore, Peruvian auto engineers, drivers and pedestrians alike eagerly want to know that there can be an alternative to traffic lights, and today they will get a somewhat awaited answer, thanks to the work of Rushing Zhang at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, in partnership with a few colleagues. .

As these researchers have tested a way to completely rid the streets of traffic lights and replace them with an optical system, they say their system is able to significantly reduce the time of daily frequent commute. Let's start with some basic information first.

The actual problem that Zhang and his colleagues deal with is the coordination of traffic flow at an intersection in which two roads meet at right angles, and often these intersections are not under control, at which point drivers must follow very strict rules about accessibility - such as those that apply to quadruple stops - This causes delay and congestion.

To solve this problem, Zhang and his colleagues used a short-range direct radio system, the kind that began to spread widely in modern vehicles, as these systems coordinate communication between vehicles, sharing information (such as GPS coordinates, speed, and direction), This data is then transmitted to a computer on board the vehicle (programmed with the team's default traffic signal protocol), which gives the driver a red or green light in the cockpit.

This virtual traffic signal system is very simple in principle. When two cars approach the intersection from different roads, you choose a driving car that controls the intersection, the driving car is given a red light, and the other vehicle is given priority of traffic in green light, then the driving car receives the green light and continues It marches, and hands over control of the intersection to the next car chosen for driving ... and so on.

Zhang and his colleagues tested this method by building a road system in a parking lot in Pittsburgh; the system was built on a standard road map from the Open Map map; it was chosen because of its similarity to many road systems in US cities, and then the team then led two cars in This network is in opposite directions, measuring the time it takes to cross 20 intersections using only virtual traffic signals, and then using quadruple stops.

The team reached interesting results. Zhang and his colleagues said that the virtual system greatly improves the time of daily recurring traffic; “The results show that virtual traffic signals reduce daily turnaround time by more than 20% on intersecting roads without traffic lights,” and it can also Add more improvements and raise this percentage to 30%.

However, this work opens the door to more challenges, such as saying that traffic lights regulate the movement of cars and pedestrians also, and Zhang and his colleagues suggest that the system can also include pedestrians through a smartphone app, which raises many questions about who cannot use the application Like young people, the elderly and people with special needs, as these people benefit from traditional traffic lights more than others, and therefore must be considered with care when designing alternative systems.

There is also the issue of dealing with old cars or motorcycles and bikes, none of which carry a vehicle communication system.

It is true that this system may become standard in all new cars quickly, but the simplest installed vehicles will remain on the roads for a period of decades, so how will the new cars adapt to those that do not use the system of virtual traffic lights?

Finally, roads with regular network structure are widespread in American cities, and many of them were expanded only after the invention of the car, but these networks are more rare in European and Asian cities, where the road structure is characterized by chaos and randomness in most cases, and it is not clear how the default traffic signs are handled With this road structure.

In any case, automation is inevitably coming, and many cars currently carry high levels of automation, and it is clear that the next step is to coordinate with each other when necessary. It is possible that the virtual traffic lights are only a small part of this trend, but it is certain that, at least, it will not face gas leaks.