Adaptive Cruise Control May Solve Traffic Jams
from the who-needs-'em dept
More and more luxury cars these days are coming with adaptive cruise control — which is mainly considered a safety feature. The idea is that if you’re getting too close to the car in front of you, your car automatically begins to slow down, avoiding the possibility of an accident. However, one of the nice “unintended benefits” of such systems is they may create much more efficient traffic flow. Apparently, if just 20% of the cars on the road had such systems on a normal highway, most traffic jams would simply go away. The article goes into details on how this works, but the basic summary is that most drivers are either idiots or err on the side of caution by braking too hard when someone in front of them brakes, leading to a chain reaction that causes the slow down. With a computer braking more appropriately, the chain reaction has a much smaller impact, allowing traffic flow to continue smoothly. Yet another situation where a technology designed for one purpose, actually has a very useful alternative benefit.