Now, robotic 'traffic cop' for driverless cars of futurev

Researchers said such smart intersections would minimise human error, they would be safer than intersections are now.

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2012, 16:33 PM IST

Washington: Engineers have developed a new robotic 'traffic cop' to help automated driverless cars in future to cruise through intersections faster with more safety.

Researchers said because such smart intersections would minimise human error, they would be safer than intersections are now.

Intelligent crossroads would also save every car an average of 35 seconds of wait time per stoplight, the 'Discovery News' reported.

Hesham Rakha, a Virginia Tech engineering professor, and his doctoral student, Ismail Zohdy, in their calculations, assumed that everyone will be using robotic cars in the near future.

"You will not be driving your car anymore; you will be driven by your car," Zohdy said in a statement.

"We are not talking about the distant future," Rakha said.

Robotic cars are closer to reality than many may think, he and Zohdy said about their smart traffic signal.

They cited some driverless cars under development now, including Google-made cars and research vehicles from Stanford University.

While other researchers have written computer programs for how driverless cars should act at intersections, Rakha and Zohdy say their controller takes into account more variables than other systems do. It calculates different cars' engine capacities, for example.

In the futuristic intersections that Rakha and Zohdy imagined, cars coming up to the intersection would send data about their location and speed to a central controller.

The controller would gather information about the weather, the speed limit at the intersection and how many lanes the intersection has. Once a car gets close enough, the controller would direct the car along paths that it has calculated are the swiftest, while remaining safe.

The result is an intersection where cars don't need to pause as often or as long as human-driven vehicles need to.

"The proposed intersection controller, which allows vehicles to keep moving, reduces the delay for each vehicle compared to traditional intersection control. Keeping vehicles moving is also more fuel efficient and reduces emissions," Rakha said.