"Talking" cars to cut down congestion

A major transport project is investigating introducing wireless networking to vehicles as a way of drastically reducing congestion and the environmental impact of traffic.

Experts at Nottingham Trent University are involved in the €3m European project, which is looking at incorporating wireless technology to vehicles to enable them to automatically gather traffic information and relay it to other commuters.

The three year research project – Models for Optimising Dynamic Urban Mobility, or MODUM – could lead to every vehicle on the road ‘talking’ to each other about how widespread congestion is in any area, at any given time.

This could enable motorists to avoid queuing traffic and reduce journey time by identifying potential problems before and during their journey.

It is hoped that this innovative form of traffic control would result in less congestion without the need to improve or extend the current road infrastructure.

Drivers would plan journeys via the routing software and then traffic information – such as congestion caused by rush hour traffic and road works, or unexpected circumstances such as following an accident – would be automatically detected and then communicated to the vehicle by other road users via the wireless technology.

The GPS assisted system would then automatically plan an alternative route to the destination.

Dr Evtim Peytchev, an expert in wireless and mobile communications at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This system would be incredibly fast, in a matter of seconds congestion would be identified, information broadcast wirelessly to the relevant users, and the best route determined.

“Wireless ad-hoc networking could help us to dynamically manage the traffic in every city, and it could potentially be done using the existing road infrastructure to its full capacity. The cars would effectively be talking to each other at all times, identifying a range of traffic conditions and, working as post boxes, delivering the messages to the destination without additional help.

“Each vehicle is actively participating in urban traffic control, the more cars you have the better communication system you will have. The system could even be used to communicate other messages, such as warning about an icy stretch of road or a rainy region.”

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