Research deals with traffic congestion

Thursday May 28, 2009
Written by Carolyn Yates
The problem of congestion could be relieved through collaborative driving, without changing existing capacities, said Jan Huissoon, of the University of Waterloo, in the AUTO21 Advanced Technology Session on Dynamic Collaborative Driving at the APMA-AUTO21 annual conference.
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"The research objectives revolve around the fact that traffic congestion is a real problem," said Huissoon. "One of the things that we can do is use intelligent transportation technology to reduce that congestion...By changing technologies, you can change the capacity of the road."

Collaborative driving is based on vehicle-to-vehicle communication. When one vehicle acts, other vehicles respond to its action, which has the potential to reduce accidents and improve traffic flow.

"It has the potential to improve both road utilization and vehicle safety," said Huissoon.

Researchers are currently examining different approaches to this communication through robotic and remote controlled models and computer simulations. One of the issues they will face is how the vehicles will interact with each other on, for example, the highway, while also coping with driver intervention and vehicles without the technology for collaborative driving.

The potential benefits, however, seem endless. One feature is lane-level positioning, which allows vehicles to make lane changes without driver intervention.

"Depending on what the flow rate was, on the traffic density on a certain stretch of highway...the optimization is very significant," said Huissoon.

Interactions between vehicles, however, are far from perfect. An ideal lane-change for one might cause problems for another. There is also the issue of how vehicles able to drive collaboratively will interact or manage around those that are not.

Drivers will also be a factor, and will have to be taken into account in determining the logistics of the system. "You're always going to have that human element," said Huissoon.

"In 15 years time, all the vehicles are going to have this capability."

For more information, visit AUTO21 at www.auto21.ca or the APMA at www.apma.ca.

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