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Smart traffic lights smooth Romania's flow

US and Romanian researchers say that wireless traffic signals that track vehicles approaching intersections could reduce waiting times by as much as 28% during rush hours.

The ‘smart’ traffic light concept was tested by recording peak traffic flow at a major junction in Bucharest, Romania, and then modeling traffic flow in a laboratory at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

In the simulations, traffic lights were fed the position and speed of all vehicles on nearby roads and programmed to calculate how to phase signal changes in order to optimize traffic flow. As well as reducing intersection waiting times, it was calculated that emissions could fall by 6.5%.

Rutgers University researcher Liviu Iftode points out that journey times, fuel consumption and emissions could all be improved further if traffic lights were to transmit information back to vehicles. Drivers could then adapt their speed or prepare themselves to react faster once the lights changed to green.

Right: Liviu Iftode of Rutgers University

February 13, 2008

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