Sitting in traffic jams is a headache many drivers only dream of avoiding. 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, which is evident by the technology that is being designed and launched to try and combat moments of gridlock on the nation’s roads.
And it seems it we might be saying goodbye to traffic jams sooner than we think as used van specialist,Van Monster, analyses some of the most eye-catching developments that are either with us now, or are forthcoming:
Communicating traffic lights
Audi is in the midst of developing a technology that effectively allows vehicles to communicate with nearby traffic lights within the area. Deemed ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ technology — or V-to-I— 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.
The technology is anything but just a one-way means of communication. 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.
The well-known vehicle manufacturer is hopeful that the technology will play a key role in easing congestion on our roads, and as a result, reduce the number of road traffic accidents.
Pom Malhotra, 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 even used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”
How will buses provide traffic updates?
A trial of buses on the 344 route from Clapham Junction to Liverpool Street in London will be providing live, up-to-date traffic news to drivers 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.
The boards, located on the rear of the vehicle, will use GPS technology andTfL’s24-hour traffic control centre to provide live traffic updates.
Garrett Emmerson, 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.”
There are also plans to expand the trial to another route around London — if the original trial is successful, the 344 route will no longer have the technology exclusively and it will be expanded onto the 415 route that travels from Tulse Hill to Liverpool Street and possibly the whole of London.
The introduction of smart motorways
Most drivers who use motorways will already be aware of smart motorway that have been introduced to try and manage a smooth continuous 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.
Smart motorways have a set of features that you should be aware of when travelling on them:
- A lane that has a red ‘X’ in the electronic signs that hang over it shouldn’t be driven along.
- The hard shoulder — indicated by a solid white line — shouldn’t be driven along unless otherwise directed to do so.
- 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.
- 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.
Are smart cities next?
NXP and Siemens have joined forces to create a technology that take vehicle connectivity to a new level. By 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.
Both companies are optimistic that the tech devices will be ready for a 2020 launch. Nevertheless, cities will first need to implement the technology throughout their streets for the idea to be fully effective.