New vehicle-in-the-loop simulation proves intelligent intersection is 100x more efficient.
Humans are not universally good drivers, and many have paid with their lives over time. 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016 (which is a marked uptick from the year before).
While the first (geofenced) level 4 autonomous vehicles should begin to appear on some streets around 2020 or 2021, it will be several decades before we get to the point where every car on your commute is self-driving.
For now, Clemson researcher Ali Reza Fayazi has provided a tantalizing glimpse at that future, a proof-of-concept study showing that a fully autonomous four-way traffic intersection is a hundred times more efficient at letting traffic flow than the intersections you and I currently navigate. Because cars don't sit idling at the lights, Fayazi calculated it would also deliver a 19 percent fuel saving.
Fayazi designed an intersection controller for a four-way junction that tracks vehicles and then uses an algorithm to control their speeds such that they can all pass safely through the junction with as few coming to a halt as possible. What makes the study particularly interesting is that Fayazi demonstrated it by interspersing his own physical car among the simulated traffic—the first use of a vehicle-in-the-loop simulator for this kind of problem.
System architecture of the vehicle-in-loop test environment.
« Autonomous vehicles not only can process the incoming information rather effortlessly but also can precisely control their speed and arrival time at an intersection. If all vehicles are autonomous then a physical traffic light is not needed anymore (virtual traffic signals), » says Ali Reza Fayazi.
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