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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    eponymous geek, 30 Jul 2004 @ 1:33pm

    no solution

    Adaptive cruise control will not solve all traffic jams. There will still be that idiot crawling at 45mph in the inside lane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Aug 2004 @ 8:57pm

    Fat chance

    No car is ever going to drive for me. I don't need my car becoming a "back seat driver". But then I don't even like anti-lock brakes all that much...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CharlesW, 2 Aug 2004 @ 1:54pm

    No Subject Given

    Actually this won't help with traffic jams. As stated jams are caused by people slowing down too much. This system won't stop someone from slowing down. It only slows you down if you fail too. So all those drivers slowing down too soon, too fast will still be slowing down too soon, too fast. This system will never engage.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Captain Obvious, 7 Feb 2009 @ 4:40am

    4 Fails before this comment.

    The 4 commenters before me all fail because they didn't even read the article in order to understand how this system will actually help solve traffic jams.

    - Idiots crawling at constant 45mph in the inner lane don't cause traffic jams: It's the idiot drivers that suddenly break behind them, causing a ripple in the traffic flow that will eventually force cars to stop way behind the 45mph idiot.
    - You may look at the wreck in the lanes going the opposite direction. That won't stop the technology from doing its part in absorbing the traffic ripples. In that particular case, if you have it, it will just stop you from hitting the guy in front of you.
    - Also, we don't need everyone to have this kind of technology in their cars. If you really want to drive without any technology at all, you can just be a part of those remaining 80%, and the traffic jams will still be solved by the technology, as stated in these studies. In fact, that is the point of this article.
    - Traffic Jams are caused because people break too much, too late. NOT too early. Seriously, who the hell breaks too suddenly, but too early, in a traffic jam?! This technology basically makes the car slow down at a very slow pace, instead of a sudden break. It will use the space between the cars as a buffer to absorb the traffic ripples caused by any idiot that breaks too much. The point is that if 20% of the cars in such a situation have this technology, these ripples won't spread. Resulting in a traffic flow at an average speed of the "crawling idiots at 45mph", which IMHO is much better than having to stop the car every few seconds. Basically, this system will be engaging most of the time.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.