May 27, 2024

What do you think about adding a fourth traffic light color to traffic lights for self-driving vehicles to help control traffic flow?

I know that one day, a bunch of connected self-driving cars may outnumber humans behind the wheel. The thing is, if traffic lights somehow give self-driving cars an advantage over the cars you and I drive, I’ll be pissed endlessly.

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A recently published study Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineersis arguing for this.

Running simulations, the researchers soon realized that a fourth traffic light could shorten travel times through intersections and reduce fuel consumption.

Adding a fourth traffic light could be beneficial for travel times. (

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How does the fourth traffic light work?

Dubbed “white phases,” the concept would essentially introduce a new traffic light so drivers on the road would know what to do around an autonomous or self-driving car.

Red, yellow and green traffic lights will remain unchanged and carry the same meaning of stop, warning and yield, and it is safe to continue driving.

With the addition of additional white light, human drivers will receive the signal and simply follow the car in front of them.

White light guides driverless cars to coordinate traffic, which could help you as the driver.

White light guides driverless cars to coordinate traffic, which could help you as the driver. (zoo)

CAVs, aka Connected Autonomous Vehicles, can communicate wirelessly with each other and with the computers that control traffic signals.

So when there are a lot of driverless cars at an intersection at the same time, they will be able to activate the white lights. This will force human drivers to support driverless cars. You just follow any driverless car in front of you (if they stop, you stop. If they go, you go). This will help self-driving cars coordinate traffic through intersections more efficiently.

In one part of the study, if there are more human drivers on the road than self-driving cars, the traffic lights could revert to the regular three-light pattern. Oops, thanks.

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Is this a safe concept?

The concept has been significantly improved since it was first introduced in 2020. “It’s both more efficient and less likely to fall prey to communication failures,” said Ali Hajbabaie, associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at NC State and corresponding author of the IEEE study.

For example, if there are interruptions or time lags in communication with traffic lights, the distributed computing approach can still handle traffic flow smoothly. ”

The researchers went on to test the concept with the help of microscopic traffic simulators that replicate real-world traffic.

The simulators showed the researchers that with self-driving cars and a fourth traffic light, traffic conditions improved and fuel consumption was much lower due to much less stop-and-go movement. With Amazon’s self-driving car recently taking its first successful drive on public roads, we can expect more driverless cars to hit the road in the near future.

The fourth traffic light concept was first introduced in 2020.

The fourth traffic light concept was first introduced in 2020. (

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The concept is far from ready to be adopted and put into practice. However, researchers like Hajbabaie certainly very much hope that this will become part of our norm in the future.

Want to check out Amazon’s self-driving car?Go to my website and search Amazon’s self-driving carBy clicking the magnifying glass at the top of my website.

How do you feel about adding a fourth traffic light to the road? We want to hear from you.

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