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Adaptive Traffic Lights Are The "Green Wave" Of The Future

Illustration for article titled Adaptive Traffic Lights Are The Green Wave Of The Future

A system of traffic lights designed to optimize flow during average conditions never works perfectly because the "average" never happens. So Researchers in Dresden, Germany are working on smarter sensors that react to actual, not estimated, traffic flow.


Even the more advanced traffic light systems in most cities are timed to work under conditions averaged from lots of data over the course of a day, so even if the system knows at 6 pm on a Friday to the signals based on estimated flow it won't recognize more people leaving 30 minutes early because of rain or held up because of a stalled car.

A team at the Dresden University of Technology are developing a sensor-based system that measures the number of vehicles going into an intersection and then leaving it. It takes this info and, using some algorithms, shares it with other traffic lights so they know to lengthen or shorten a light to get the group of cars through the intersection in a "green wave."

"It's a paradoxical effect that occurs in complex systems," said one researcher. "Surprisingly, delay processes can improve the system altogether. It is a slower-is-faster effect. You can increase the throughput - speed up the whole system - if you delay single processes within the system at the right time, for the right amount of time."


Initial tests show a reduction in delays of 56% for trams/buses, 9% for cars/trucks, and 36% for pedestrians. [Wired]

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Spiegel - ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ - Hopes to post on oppos!

Car count on west street: 5 — note: Semi with trailer in front.

Car count on north street: 1 — note: Hummer driver on cell phone with "HMMR" New Jersey vanity plate.

Car count on south street: 3 — note: front most car waiting to make a left turn. 17 year old girl driving a maserati.

Running "Cleansing of gene pool" program....activate left turn signal on south street....activate forward signal on north street.

Chances of survival....under 50%.

Sending semi.....chances of survival....5%.

Wait 15 minutes then alert authorities.