Researchers testing virtual traffic lights in Pittsburgh
The traffic light alternative relies on V2V and DSRC technology to coordinate traffic flow
Researchers have launched a pilot program which replaces physical traffic light systems with virtual alternatives.
The challenge of improving road traffic flows and the effectiveness of traffic control methods is at the heart of a new research project led by engineer Rusheng Zhang, together with a team from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The research team has developed a traffic light system alternative called Virtual Traffic Lights (VTL). The infrastructure-free traffic control scheme relies on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, a core component of modern cars and the development of autonomous vehicles. V2V is able to share GPS data, maps, speed and the intended direction of moving cars.
For the system, Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) technology can be used in conjunction with V2V to coordinate traffic at intersections without the need for physical traffic lights.
A pilot program has been launched in Pittsburgh. Two vehicles were set up to approach a junction, one of which acted as the "lead" car. The leader was given a virtual red light display, which left the following vehicle with a green light. The leader was then issued a green light and permission to move. Once this car moved on, the "leader" status was then passed to the next vehicle.
After testing this system at over 20 junctions in addition to the presence of four-way stop signs, the researchers say that VTL is able to reduce traffic congestion, carbon emissions and the average commute time by up to 20%.