Minimising traffic jams with new technology

An inconvenience that most drivers are familiar with is traffic jams – they slow down your journey, cause disruption on the roads and can turn into a very stressful situation. Fortunately, the motoring world appears to share this concern, as evident by the technology that is being designed and launched, to try and combat moments of gridlock on the nation’s roads.

Minimising traffic jams with new technology

To forecast just how soon we could eliminate the dreaded traffic jam, used van specialist Van Monster has analysed some of the most eye-catching developments that are either with us now, or are forthcoming:

Communicate technology for traffic lights

Premium automotive brand, Audi are already developing a technology that will allow vehicles to effectively communicate with traffic lights nearby.

The tech is named ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ technology — or V-to-I for short — and will essentially inform drivers when a set of traffic lights are about to turn green. It will also act as a means of warning motorists if they won’t have enough time to make it through the lights before they turn red.However, V-to-I is far from a one-way conversation. This is because the technology will also make use of the cloud to send safety information and other operational data wirelessly from vehicles to traffic lights.

Audi’s aim and hope is that the technology will be a crucial part in easing congestion on our roads and minimise the number of traffic accidents witnessed on roads.

Pom Malhotra, the General Manager of the Connected Vehicles division at Audi, commented: “This feature represents Audi’s first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration.

“In the future we could envision this technology integrated into vehicle navigation, start/stop functionality and can even be used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”

How can buses communicate traffic updates?

The bus that runs the 344 routefrom Clapham Junction to Liverpool Street in London will be the first set of buses to trial a new technology that keeps vehicles up-to-date with traffic news in the area.This is a result of a previous six-month trial that is being launched by Transport for London (TfL), which will see digital information boards being installed into the back windows of the transport.

The technology will utilize GPS tech to relay accurate and live traffic information to the vehicle behind the bus, using TfL’s 24-hour traffic control centre.

Garrett Emmerson, the Chief Operation Officer for Surface Transport at TfL, acknowledged: “This innovative use of one of the capital’s most iconic features – the London bus – will help all road users.”

Yes, this is just a trial right now, however there are already plans to introduce the technology to another route if all goes well. Plans hope to expand it onto the 415 route that travels from Tulse Hill to Liverpool Street and possibly the whole of London.

Smart city technology

NXP and Siemens have combined their expertise to create a technology that excels in the terms of keeping vehicles connected. Making use of in-vehicle chips designed by NXP which are incorporated with smart infrastructure that is being overseen by Siemens, the devices will allow vehicles to talk to each other within a city.

As a result, all of the following could soon be possible:

  • The ability for traffic lights to turn green when roads are particularly busy.
  • The chance for drivers to be instantly warned about any traffic jams on the road that they are travelling along.
  • The opportunity for real-time information about general travel conditions to be communicated straight to vehicles and their drivers.
  • The capability for drivers to be informed about any pedestrian crossings, stretches of road with lower speed limits or emergency vehicles that are nearby, via a hi-tech dashboard.

Both companies are hopeful that the technology could be rolled out as soon as 2020! However, they are aware that for it to be success and truly effective, cities will first need to implement the technology throughout their streets.

How effective are smart motorways?

Motorways have always been an area that is exposed to traffic jams which is why smart motorways have been put into operation on certain routes – and it seems drivers are already getting used to the idea of smart motorways as a means to actively manage the flow of traffic.

The smart motorway systems are controlled from a regional traffic control centre and the responsibility of Highways England, the idea sees traffic being carefully monitored so that vehicles have the best opportunity to flow freely along a route.

When using smart motorways, it pays to be aware of the following features:

  1. A lane that has a red ‘X’ in the electronic signs that hangs over it shouldn’t be driven along.
  2. The hard shoulder — indicated by a solid white line — shouldn’t be driven along unless otherwise directed to do so.
  3. The smart motorway’s current speed limit will be indicated by gantries and should be kept to. The speed limit will change depending on the amount of traffic.
  4. Refuge areas should be used for emergencies at times when drivers can travel along the hard shoulder.

Smart motorways are currently in operation throughout the UK, including along stretches of the M4, M5, M25 and M42. Plans are in place to introduce many more across the country.

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