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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: 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.
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