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posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 15 2017, @07:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the automate-that-already dept.

Gotta keep 'em separated:

When unexplained traffic jams happen, says an MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) study, you can probably blame tailgaters. The researchers say that if drivers kept an even distance between cars rather than driving too close to the vehicle in front, traffic flow would remain even. This "bilateral control," could double the speed of the average vehicle on busy highways.
This ideal is very different from what is the norm in most thinking about traffic, especially by those stuck in it. Drivers (and, consequently, vehicle control systems) tend to be looking ever forward, responding only to what's ahead and largely ignoring what's behind. Thus, in stop-and-go or slow-and-go situations (traffic jams), each vehicle reacts to the vehicle in front, causing intermittent slowdowns or stops (jams) in wave-like patterns. When vehicles are working to maintain equal distances both from the car in front and the vehicle behind, the MIT paper contends, these wave patterns are minimized and traffic flows more smoothly.

Maintaining even spacing facilitates lane changes and merges as well.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday December 15 2017, @08:08PM (5 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday December 15 2017, @08:08PM (#610425)

    This is why I'm definitely a proponent of software-controlled cars. They won't be perfect, but they will be better than human drivers by the time they'll be allowed in the "wild". The next best thing available now, adaptive cruise control, would also be an immense help for preventing this sort of thing.

    Of course, that won't help the guy in a souped up pickup who is mad as hell that there are people not getting out of his way so he can exercise his $DEITY-given right to drive 90mph.

    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Saturday December 16 2017, @05:09AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 16 2017, @05:09AM (#610622) Journal

    This is why I'm definitely a proponent of software-controlled cars.

    I have a software controlled car, in fact they are becoming rather common. Not full autonomous yet.

    Its called adaptive cruise control (along with several other marketing names) which uses (variously depending on make/model) ) cameras, lidar, 25ghz radar, to maintain a distance behind the car you are following. Newer adaptive cruise control cars will follow the lead car all the way down to zero mph, and resume again as the lead car moves off. (stop and go traffic), always trying to maintain a speed adjusted distance from the car ahead.

    My model uses 25ghz radar, and it even notices cars ahead of the one you are following are slowing down, and will start slowing early even before the one right in front of you reacts.

    There are still some problems with this, which will have to be worked out for fully autonomous cars.

    First, is when some impatient jackass decides to jump into that gap between your car and the lead car, (for what ever insane reason). This causes your car to slow down (sometimes significantly) and illuminate it's brake lights, whether or not it actually using the brakes to slow down, to warn the driver behind you. That driver in turn slows down, and you end up with a counter-flow slow-spot, all induced by the lane-darter.

    A human might have noticed the lane dart about to happen and chosen to temporarily sacrificed a little bit of that following distance to prevent having to brake and thereby induce the counter-flow. Of course the lane-darter is totally unaware of the shit they cause behind them.

    I suspect autonomous vehicles to actually make this worse*, either in their braking or their darting. It will take generations of software refinement to get rid of this.

    * Don't think for a minute automakers will do the right thing and prevent their autonomous cars from lane darting. I'll bet they will just do so more precisely, having the advantage of precise calculations. Any automaker that would cheat on Diesel emissions would would built a "traffic expediter option" into their self drive software. Maybe it will come with Peril Sensitive Sunglasses for the passengers.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Saturday December 16 2017, @06:09AM (3 children)

    by captain normal (2205) on Saturday December 16 2017, @06:09AM (#610630)

    With all the millions of cars on the road that are not autonomous I think it will be quite a while before that happens. Then there all of us who love our classic sports and muscle cars and antique cars from before WW II. Then there are all the folks into ratrods. Are you going to force all of us off the roads? Who is going to enforce that?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by lentilla on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:19AM (2 children)

      by lentilla (1770) on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:19AM (#610644)

      Who is going to enforce that?

      The insurance premiums.

      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Saturday December 16 2017, @10:59AM (1 child)

        by deimtee (3272) on Saturday December 16 2017, @10:59AM (#610675) Journal

        What is this "insurance premiums" of which you speak?

        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by lentilla on Sunday December 17 2017, @09:09AM

          by lentilla (1770) on Sunday December 17 2017, @09:09AM (#610927)

          There are two basic components of an insurance policy: the "premium" and the "excess" (at least that's what they are called in my neck of the woods). The premium is the amount you pay on a regular basis. The excess is the extra amount you pay when you make a claim on the policy.

          I was originally suggesting that government bodies won't need to force self-driven cars off the road. The insurance premiums for everything but autonomous vehicles will head into the stratosphere (and likely the excesses as well). Suffice to say that when autonomous vehicles hit prime-time the cost of insurance for self-driven cars will rapidly rise until very few will be able to afford the cost.

          Insurance companies are going to love automated cars. It removes the one defining element of insurance (chance) from the equation and allows them to write their own cheques. Pity help the rest of us when the insurance industry discovers that Ford has 12% more accidents that Toyota (for instance). All Ford owners will immediately pay 24% more (and Toyota owners will pay no less).