Smarter traffic lights will turn green just for you

Unless you live in a fantastic and coordinated city like Portland, Oregon, you're likely familiar with the phenomenon of idiotic traffic lights that conspire to turn red just as you approach to make way for zero cars coming the other way. It's not just annoying, it's also bad for the ol' environment, and intelligent traffic lights could make a big difference.

Peter Stone, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, thinks that it would be helpful if traffic lights were smart enough to listen to you screaming at them to either turn green or stay green. His idea is to set up a sort of "reservation system," where your car could contact an approaching traffic light in advance. The light is listening to all of the cars coming toward it at once, keeping track of which cars want to get through when, dynamically altering its timing to provide for the most efficient traffic flow possible.

Efficient traffic flow is generally good news for everybody on the road, but as we all know, everybody on the road besides you is a terrible driver who is going someplace way less important than you are. The reason you really care about this smart light system is that it'll do its level best to make sure that you never, ever have to slow down. Ever. Or at least, it'll tell your car how it should adjust its speed to keep from having to come to a stop, which not only wastes your time, but wastes fuel as well. In a fantastical futuristic universe full of sensor-equipped cars and traffic lights (that's really not that fantastical or futuristic), it's conceivable that you might be able to blow through even relatively crowded intersections without stopping, as long as you let the traffic light and your car take control of things.

Discovery, via Slashdot

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook