MHH International Looks at Talking Traffic Lights
It seems a far cry from the 9 December 1868 when the first set of non-electric gas-lit traffic lights were introduced. Using a system of three semaphore arms, they were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London to control the horse-drawn traffic in Bridge Street, Great George Street, and Parliament Street. Clearly Great Britain’s capital city was congested even then. The system worked well but proved to be risky when it exploded, injuring an adjacent policeman. We’ve moved on since then.
Talking Traffic Lights
Obviously, ‘talking’ doesn’t suggest some sort of verbal communication. Nobody wants traffic signals that answer back when we shout at them in frustration, no: what has been announced is that British manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover are developing a new ‘Vehicle-to-Infrastructure’ technology that connects cars to traffic lights so drivers can avoid getting stuck at red and help free up traffic flow in cities.
That’s the plan anyway and hopefully that frustrating wait for the ‘go’ light will be a thing of the past. It’s called the ‘Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory’ system and it allows cars to “talk” to traffic lights and inform the driver the speed they should drive at as they approach junctions or signals.
Emissions inevitably play a part here too because the JLR system will, they say, prevent drivers from racing to beat the lights and thus improve air quality by reducing harsh acceleration. Free-flowing cities with fewer delays and less commuter stress is something we all want no matter how we may feel about the advance of autonomous technology.
These trials of connected technology are enhancing existing ‘Advanced Driver Assistance’ features continually appearing on the latest cars by increasing the line of sight of a vehicle when it is connected via the internet to other vehicles and infrastructure. For example, ‘Intersection Collision Warning’ alerts drivers when it is unsafe to proceed at a junction by providing information that other cars are approaching from another road and can assign priority when two or more connected vehicles come to an intersection without priority signs or traffic lights. It may even mean the end of the gantry system currently deployed on our motorways and autoroutes with advanced warning of speed restrictions and congestion.
As a further part of this system, the company has also addressed the time lost searching for a parking space by providing up-to-date information on available spaces to drivers. It will even alert motorists when an emergency vehicle is approaching.
Safely Saving Us Time
This cutting-edge science will, they say, reduce the time we spend idling at traffic lights. Ultimately, this connected technology of the future will link the vehicle to everything around it, allowing free-flowing traffic that will pave the way for the self-driving vehicles of the future.