The first traffic light system was put into operation near the British Parliament Building in London in 1868. It consisted of a set of gas lights controlled by a police officer and designed to control the flow. convenient (mainly horse-drawn carriages) throughout the roads on the banks of the River Thames.
That experiment is a success, at least in terms of traffic control. But the fate of the other lights dimmed, when only a few months were installed, they exploded after a gas leak, injuring the police tasked with controlling the lights.
Since then, pedestrians and motorcyclists have many problems with traffic lights. When operating well, the traffic light provides a neutral, efficient system to determine the priority order when traveling on the road, but when the traffic light is not working as expected, the situation of long-distance traffic lasts for miles can happen.
Therefore, automotive, driver, and pedestrian engineers all wanted to know if there was any alternative to an outdated light system. And we now have an answer to the problem, thanks to Rusheng Zhang's achievement at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a few other colleagues. These researchers tested a way to completely remove traffic lights, replacing them with a virtual system with the potential to significantly reduce the time involved in traffic.
The problem that Zhang and his colleagues focus on here is how to coordinate the flow of traffic through a fork, where two roads intersect at a certain angle. The intersection like this usually has no traffic controllers, so the driver must comply with the rules they grasp to choose the time of crossing the road, for example at intersections with stop sign systems 4 pm. This causes delays and leads to traffic congestion.
To solve the problem, Zhang and his colleagues use short-range radio systems that are increasingly popular on modern vehicles. They act as a system of communication between vehicles, sharing data types such as GPS coordinates, speed and direction. This data is transferred to an integrated computer programmed with the virtual traffic light protocol developed by the team, which displays a green or red light in the cabin, in front of the driver.
The principle of operation of virtual traffic lights is quite simple. When two cars go to the fork on two different roads, they will communicate to pick out a directional vehicle. This steering wheel will display a red light, and give the vehicle the right of priority with the green light. The directional vehicle will then receive the green light and go out of the fork, transfer control to the next vehicle chosen as the directional vehicle (this time approaching the fork).
Zhang and colleagues tested the new solution by setting up a simulator road system in the car park . This road system is based on a standard road layout from the Open Maps, similar to the road layout in many US cities. The team then drove two vehicles around the simulator system in opposite directions, measuring the amount of time it takes to go through 20 fork points when using the virtual traffic light system, then use the system. Normal 4-way stop signs for comparison.
The results are quite interesting. Zhang and his colleagues say their virtual system has significantly improved circulation time, in particular by reducing more than 20% on roads with intersections without a control signal system. And this result could be even better, reaching a maximum of 30% if improved.
However, there are still great challenges ahead. For example, in many places, the traffic signal system has the function of controlling both cars and pedestrians. Zhang and his colleagues propose to walk pedestrians into the new protocol through the use of a smartphone application.
But what about people who can't use the app, like the elderly, young, or disabled? These are the main beneficiaries of the traditional traffic light system, so they must be included in the first place when designing alternative systems.
Virtual transport system greatly improves traffic time.
Next is the question of how can the system be used on old cars, motorcycles, and bicycles - vehicles that are not equipped with communication systems between each other. This communication system will soon become a must-have standard on new cars, but older, simpler cars will surely roll over the roads for decades. How can new vehicles communicate with older vehicles that cannot use virtual traffic lights?
And finally, the grid line structure is very popular in American cities, many of which are expanded after cars were invented. However, this lattice structure is much rarer in Europe and Asia, where roads often do not follow any system and are quite confusing. It is not clear how the virtual traffic light system will do business in such places?
Anyway, automation cars are not far away. Many cars are now able to drive automatically at a certain level. The next step will be to improve the navigation system . And virtual traffic lights are likely only part of this trend. At the very least, they don't leak gas to harm people around!