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Waiting at traffic lights could be a thing of the past

Nobody likes waiting at traffic lights, so it’s great to know research is being done to stop those annoying stop-start moments of petrol-guzzling frustration.

New software could eliminate red lights from your route.
New software could eliminate red lights from your route.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is devising a system, known as SignalGuru, that will make your drive home free of interruption. How, exactly? By calculating the ideal speed and route that will give you the best chance of avoiding a red light.

That may seem far fetched, given that there are other factors that cause you to throw on the anchors (other motorists, attractive pedestrians) but MIT claims the trials in Cambridge, Massachusetts have worked well thus far.

MIT scientists gather information on when lights change by fitting camera phones to car dashboards. The phones send the images wirelessly to a computer, which uses special software to calculate how fast a car needs to travel in order to get from one point to another without encountering a red light.

The data is then fed back to the mobile phone, which issues the driver guidance on where and how fast to drive in order to get to his destination uninterrupted.

According to Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the scientist behind SignalGuru, the system is accurate to within one second at worst. Its performance could be improved if it instructed drivers when to accelerate in order to beat a light changing from green to red, but Mr. Koukoumidis deemed this potentially dangerous. Instead, the SignalGuru will ask drivers to take a side road in order to stay on the move.

If the system was adopted for widespread use it could provide huge benefits. Not only could drivers reduce the amount of time spent sat around twiddling their thumbs, they could also reduce their petrol bills as fuel economy plummets when cars are asked to move off from a standstill. Such a system could also reduce traffic jams – if cars are constantly moving at a precisely governed speed there’s surely less likelihood of them being snarled up nose to tail.

Here’s hoping MIT continue the research on this one.

Source: The Telegraph
Image: Martinrp

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