Analysing the new technology that could change time in traffic

You will be hard-pressed to think of a more stressful situation as a driver than being stuck in traffic. Fortunately, the motoring world appears to share this concern, as evident by the technology that is being designed and launched, to try and combat moments of gridlock on the nation’s roads.

To get a glimpse into how we may soon be waving goodbye to the dreaded traffic jam, used van specialist Van Monster has analysed some of the most eye-catching developments that are either with us now, or are forthcoming:

Tech that can communicate with traffic lights

Well-known vehicle manufacturer Audi is currently looking into technology which will effectively enable vehicles to talk to nearby traffic lights.

Deemed ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ technology — or V-to-I for short — the revolutionary concept will see drivers being informed when a set of traffic lights are about to turn green. It will also act as a means of warning motorists if they won’t have enough time to make it through the lights before they turn red.

However, V-to-I is far from a one-way conversation. This is because the technology will also make use of the cloud to send safety information and other operational data wirelessly from vehicles to traffic lights.

Audi hopes that its concept will help to ease congestion as well as bring down the amount of crashes witnessed on roads.

Pom Malhotra, the General Manager of the Connected Vehicles division at Audi, commented: “This feature represents Audi’s first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration.

“In the future we could envision this technology integrated into vehicle navigation, start/stop functionality and can even be used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”

Traffic updates advertised on buses

Drive behind a bus that takes the 344 route from Clapham Junction to Liverpool Street in London and you could soon be keeping up-to-date with traffic news in the area.

This is a result of a six-month trial that is being launched by Transport for London (TfL), which will see digital information boards being installed into the back windows of the transport.

Once activated, the boards will make use of GPS technology in order to display accurate and live traffic information, taken straight from TfL’s 24-hour traffic control centre.

Garrett Emmerson, the Chief Operation Officer for Surface Transport at TfL, acknowledged: “This innovative use of one of the capital’s most iconic features – the London bus – will help all road users.”

While the trial will be introduced exclusively on the 344 route, if it’s a success there are already plans in place to expand it onto the 415 route that travels from Tulse Hill to Liverpool Street and possibly the whole of London.

Smart cities

NXP and Siemens are collaborating in order to create technology that could usher in an exciting new era of connected vehicles.

Making use of in-vehicle chips designed by NXP which are incorporated with smart infrastructure that is being overseen by Siemens, the devices will allow vehicles to talk to each other within a city.

As a result, all of the following could soon be possible:

  • The ability for traffic lights to turn green when roads are particularly busy.
  • The chance for drivers to be instantly warned about any traffic jams on the road that they are travelling along.
  • The opportunity for real-time information about general travel conditions to be communicated straight to vehicles and their drivers.
  • The capability for drivers to be informed about any pedestrian crossings, stretches of road with lower speed limits or emergency vehicles that are nearby, via a hi-tech dashboard.

NXP and Siemens are confident that their devices could be ready to launch as early as 2020, though cities will first need to implement the technology throughout their streets for the idea to be fully effective.

Smart motorways

Heading away from the city, drivers are already getting used to the idea of smart motorways — a concept that functions to actively manage the flow of traffic.

Controlled from a regional traffic control centre and the responsibility of Highways England, the idea sees traffic being carefully monitored so that vehicles have the best opportunity to flow freely along a route.

Travel along a smart motorway then, and you should be observant of these following features:

  1. A lane that has a red ‘X’ in the electronic signs that hangs over it shouldn’t be driven along.
  2. The hard shoulder — indicated by a solid white line — shouldn’t be driven along unless otherwise directed to do so.
  3. The smart motorway’s current speed limit will be indicated by gantries and should be kept to. The speed limit will change depending on the amount of traffic.
  4. Refuge areas should be used for emergencies at times when drivers can travel along the hard shoulder.

Smart motorways are currently in operation throughout the UK, including along stretches of the M4, M5, M25 and M42. Plans are in place to introduce many more across the country.

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