Imagine a world where negotiating busy junctions does not require you to wait at a red light and the only reason to stop your car is because you have arrived at your destination.
Every year, the average driver spends two days waiting at traffic lights. And not only can junctions be frustrating – they are also the cause of up to 60 per cent of road traffic accidents. As well as saving time, avoiding stopping at junctions could save fuel, as drivers avoid braking and accelerating away from the lights.
We are now trialling a new way in which connected car technology could help – and that takes its lead from how people negotiate their way through busy crowds, by slowing down or speeding up to avoid collisions, without coming to a standstill. Intersection Priority Management is being tested on the streets of Milton Keynes, as part of the government-funded UK Autodrive programme that aims to ease traffic flow and improve safety and efficiency.
“We know that intersections and traffic lights can be a real bugbear for many drivers,” said Christian Ress, from our Driver Assist Technologies team. “We envisage a world where vehicles are more aware of each other and their environment, enabling intelligent cooperation and collaboration on the roads – and around junctions.”
The technology uses vehicle-to-vehicle communications to coordinate with other vehicles nearby and suggests speeds that will allow cars to safely pass by each other without coming to a halt.
For the trial, there are people behind the wheel, but it is envisaged that autonomous vehicles could also benefit – and that one day there may be no need for traffic lights or road signs.