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SignalGuru Helps Drivers Avoid Red Lights

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the green-is-so-much-more-beautiful dept.

Cellphones 436

cylonlover writes "Researchers at MIT and Princeton have now devised a system, dubbed SignalGuru (PDF), that gathers visual data from the cameras of a network of dashboard-mounted smartphones and tells drivers the optimal speed to drive at to avoid waiting at the next set of lights." In their testing, the system saved drivers about 20 percent in fuel.

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Suggestion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239522)

Personal Rail Pods would save 95% of the idiocy that accompanies the inefficiencies in fuel consumption from motor vehicals.

First Red Light! (0)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239524)

Something like this could definitely be useful to me anyways. Damned red lights.. I hates em...

Re:First Red Light! (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239750)

Instead of buying one of these you could try looking out of the window. Red traffic lights are quite visible and you can slow down manually when you see one coming up.

Re:First Red Light! (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239782)

The application tells you how fast to go if you want to catch every green light. It is not there to tell you that one is coming up.

But that level of understanding would require at least reading the summary.

Re:First Red Light! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239918)

This will not work in the US. People here have the attention span of a three year old on amphetamines. They cannot understand the idea that they will not lose any time in their journey if they do not floor the gas pedal to get to that next red light as quick as possible. Hell, people cannot wait three seconds here to wait and put their crap on the grocer conveyor belt for fear of losing time at the check out.

Re:First Red Light! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239934)

To catch the green light you must drive at 9001 mp/h.

You can do that right now (2)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239526)

When I approach a red light, I don't continue driving and then stop, but start braking immediately and bring my speed down quickly. I then continue rolling at relatively low speed (with the shift stick in neutral, so the car doesn't brake on the engine). Often, I've still speed when the traffic light turns green. This works too if there are cars in front of you, but of course worse the longer the queue before the traffic light is, as they have to pick up speed.

I've always been waiting for the time that my TomTom gets info from the traffic lights to tell me the best speed, but alternative approaches would be fine too.

Bert

Re:You can do that right now (5, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239568)

(with the shift stick in neutral, so the car doesn't brake on the engine)

On a modern car this is bad for fuel consumption - in neutral, the engine is burning fuel to idle, but under engine-braking conditions the ECU cuts the fuel entirely. So if you used the brakes (wasting kinetic energy as heat) and then put the car in neutral to avoid slowing down further, you wasted a load of fuel. Better to just let the engine brake the whole way.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239674)

The amount of fuel spent in idling is quite small compared to the amount required to accelerate the car. So you want to arrive at the back of the traffic light losing the least momentum as possible. The most fuel efficient strategy is to break hard just once, as soon as possible, and then let the car roll at a speed that hopefully will allow you to meet the cars in front by the moment they are already rolling on a considerable speed.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239704)

The most fuel efficient strategy is to break hard just once, as soon as possible, and then let the car roll at a speed

Did you read the parent at all?

You break gently using the engine (using zero fuel for all that time) *then* when you reach desired rolling speed you put it in neutral.

(Assuming you have a neutral...most gas guzzlers don't...)

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239708)

Aaargh, did I really type "break"? ptui.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239820)

I read the parent. I don't agree with it.

You want to arrive at the end of the queue as speedy as possible, and most likely as late as possible, allowing time for the green light. So you need to brake hard early on. You can't do it using the engine.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240014)

Why do you need to brake hard?

Hard braking is a sign of wasted energy.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240070)

Braking in general is a sign of wasted energy. It doesn't matter how hard it is: Whatever the rate of deceleration, or the mechanism for doing so, you're just converting X units of forward momentum into Y units of heat.

But whatever. Braking early to match a light maximizes average velocity, which both gets you there faster and minimizes fuel consumption. Braking harder (ie: earlier) simply contributes to that effect.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239714)

+1 Insightful - or: Matches what my driving instructor told me :)

Re:You can do that right now (0)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239904)

When you engine brake, you put the car in a lower gear, which increases the revs on the engine, which requires more fuel. Why would you think the engine cuts fuel completely? First, it needs fuel, even at idle. Second, it needs more fuel to produce more rpms in the lower gear.

Unless you are talking about some sort of hybrid?

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Isao (153092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239936)

No, s/he's talking about the ECU dropping the injector dwell to zero because the accessories can be run from the inertia of the car. Engine revs come from the wheels/transmission, not combustion, actually a lot like a hybrid's regenerative brakes. You can actually watch this happen in reverse when you get close to stopping because the revs are too low to sustain drive and the ECU starts fuel flow again, causing a slight blip in RPM as it transitions to idle. (This is also when the transmission disengages.)

Re:You can do that right now (2)

miasmic (669645) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239948)

Mod parent up - This is one of the most common misconceptions I've come across in any walk of life.

Most people really don't understand the importance and value of engine braking in general, and believe the opposite of reality, that it's bad for the car and that it uses more gas. I am so sick of tailing behind people crawling down mountain passes, breathing in 6 months driving worth of their burning brakes.

Using the engine to slow down saves gas and brake pads, and down steep hills is much safer as the car isn't waiting to run away / depending on brake pressure to stay under control.

Re:You can do that right now (2, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240018)

It's even worse if the car behind you has a different neutral speed (chance approx. 100%) and needs to either continuously brake or occasionally give some extra gas in order to not crash into you or slow down to the point where it stops too far before the traffic light.
You might save your own fuel, but you're adding cost and being a pain in the arse for everybody else.
Just drive normal; don't brake at the last moment and don't brake before you have to.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240032)

By modern car you mean just about everything post 1990 without a distributor.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239614)

Another way you can potentially safe fuel is by turning off the engine at red lights.

http://www.slate.com/id/2192187/ [slate.com]

The technology on the Prius that this article mentions seems interesting (automatically putting the engine in a sort of standby mode where you just have to push the gas pedal to start it again)

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239696)

This is bad for emission, however, because most engines at least till the late 90s probably till today give plenty of fuel to start the car. Also if you do a lot of stop and go you might even trigger a catalytic converter too slow to warm up code. The Prius has a more powerful starter motor that was designed for more frequent use. Understand a normal starter motor is 2kw+, if you know how big a 12v motor of that wattage is vs who big a starter motor is you will realize that it has a very low duty cycle rating maybe 5%. So it would be very hard on the starter. Also, the engine will pollute more if it does not reach operating temperature. The Prius uses special vacuum themos to keep the coolant warm and then the engine. If the light isn't super long it just is not good idea.

Re:You can do that right now (1, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239730)

This is bad for emission, however, because most engines at least till the late 90s probably till today give plenty of fuel to start the car. Also if you do a lot of stop and go you might even trigger a catalytic converter too slow to warm up code.

Try thinking positive for a change...it works wonders.

The Prius has a more powerful starter motor that was designed for more frequent use.

You mean .... cars that have this feature are designed to do it?

Wow!!! How is that possible???

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239716)

The technology on the Prius that this article mentions seems interesting (automatically putting the engine in a sort of standby mode where you just have to push the gas pedal to start it again)

An lot of cars in Europe already have this (normal cars with no batteries in them, not just Prius). When you're stopped with your foot on the brake the engine switches off. When you lift off the brake to go for the accelerator it starts up again.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240048)

how does that work in a manual transmission car? no really I like the tech, but i also really like manual transmissions, so i'm wondering if i can have both.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239914)

How do I keep the AC going when I cut the engine at red lights? It was 112 yesterday.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

raptor_87 (881471) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239990)

Run it off the battery? My car (a 1999 Civic) can run the AC with the engine off...

Re:You can do that right now (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240040)

Battery perhaps?
Unless you're stopping at the red light for a few hours, it shouldn't be a problem.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239648)

I've heard similar things suggested elsewhere, but is engine braking really avoided in the US? When I was taught here in the UK, engine braking was a primary method of braking the vehicle from any speed (you apply the brake while either remaining in the current gear or down shifting and letting each gear engage with no accelerator applied) and is used basically by everyone.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239722)

Also here in UK, taught to take foot of gas and let the car coast as much as possible until you need to brake. This is not always possible as there are ALWAYS dickheads that have lead feet and are right up to your bumper (fender) because they want to get to that red light faster. If you can let the car coast then do so, also wastes less energy from not using the brakes until you really need to.

Of course, that kind of driving to traffic lights may be different for [electric] cars with regenerative braking.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239834)

Question?:
If said dickhead does not slow down at the red light, do you then keep driving into the intersection - against the red light?

While slamming your foot on the brake pedal might be unwise in a situation as described above, taking your foot off the accelerator isn't.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239732)

I've heard similar things suggested elsewhere, but is engine braking really avoided in the US? When I was taught here in the UK, engine braking was a primary method of braking the vehicle from any speed (you apply the brake while either remaining in the current gear or down shifting and letting each gear engage with no accelerator applied) and is used basically by everyone.

99.9999% of Americans have automatic gearboxes*. They can't downshift whenever they feel like it.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239800)

You can in every automatic I've ever driven. Are the transmissions so different in the states?

Re:You can do that right now (2, Informative)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239856)

You can in every automatic I've ever driven. Are the transmissions so different in the states?

No. The drivers are so different in the states. :-/

I've driven in the US, Canada, and England.

Canadian roads are full of indecisive morons who can't figure out where they need to go, or how to get there. They also have no idea how a car works, as everything is automatic and done for them.
US roads are full of inconsiderate asshats who think everybody else on the road should get off it, so that they can change 3 lanes at once with no signal, since they're too important to have to plan ahead. They mostly have no idea how a car works, as everything is just about as automatic as Canada.
UK roads are full of speed demons who know where they need to be, and want to get there as quickly as possible. If you're going in the same direction as them, you'd better be moving fast enough to not hold them up. Other than that, they're quite refreshing.

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239968)

My experience is that the people who think everyone else is a moron are usually the people who should get off the roads. You sound very much like one of them. Do you look at yourself in the mirror at times? It helps a lot to know what you look like fer real, you know.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239926)

Wooo hooo, I'm in the .0001th percentile!

Re:You can do that right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239976)

Me, too! But in the US I think we're a dying breed. Too many people think shifting is too hard.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240060)

the common complaint i hear is "rush hour is too much work in a manual" I've done the 45 minutes to drive 5 miles commute thing, a bit of planning goes a long way.

Re:You can do that right now (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240036)

99.9999% of Americans have automatic gearboxes*. They can't downshift whenever they feel like it.

Of course we can. The gearshift has lower gear positions that limit the automatic transmission to the lower gears specifically for this purpose.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239920)

Most of us in the US own automatics (not me, haven't owned one in 25 years of driving), which makes engine braking hard. Although they have dual clutch multiple speed selector automatics now days, most people don't ever touch the gear selector except to go D, R or N.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

luder (923306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239728)

I do this too, but it sucks when people behind you don't get it and go mad on you... And that's almost always the case.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239754)

I then continue rolling at relatively low speed (with the shift stick in neutral, so the car doesn't brake on the engine).

To what advantage ? To get a rolling start ? You push it back into gear to drive off again ? Or to block people behind you... ? Maybe you're not used driving is very dense traffic conditions.. ?

The usual action is:

  • See red light
  • You estimate distance and start to break on the engine (shifting down progressively without applying gas), this breaks you fluently (you don't cause a wave of hard stopping behind you)
  • If the light jumps green, you apply gas and you are in perfect gear to accellerate and continue driving
  • If the light stays on red, you keep on breaking on the engine until stopped and you wait.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239792)

When I approach a red light, I don't continue driving and then stop, but start braking immediately and bring my speed down quickly. I then continue rolling at relatively low speed (with the shift stick in neutral, so the car doesn't brake on the engine).

Driving a constant speed is far more efficient than slowing down in neutral due to the acceleration that you follow up with.

Re:You can do that right now (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239898)

You're still saving gas. When you're sitting still you're getting 0 mpg. If everyone drove lake that you and I could save even more gas, because we wouldn't have to stop for a green light because everybody else is in such a hurry to race to the red light. People don't seem to realize that in the city, being in a hurry won't get you there any faster. The real speed limit isn't what the sign says, but what the lights are timed at.

Re:You can do that right now (1)

todrules (882424) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240068)

I hate it when people do this. It messes with the flow of traffic and makes it almost impossible for people trying to pull in from a side street. Just when you think that the cars are going to pass, and you can pull out, they slow down to a crawl, and you never get a chance to pull out because then the next wave of cars are able to catch up.

At last (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239540)

Terrific! What would be the effects of a 20% fuel savings in town?

Re:At last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239552)

The effect? Captain Obvious TO THE RESCUE! - People would spend 20% less on gas. There would be 20% less vehicle related emissions. Gas stations would make 20% less in fuel sales.

Re:At last (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239590)

OR they would drive 25% more.

Re:At last (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239556)

Impossible because a large amount of time the speed you drive is not up to you but rather up to the queued up traffic in front of you.

Re:At last (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239740)

RTFA.

Honest Officer (2)

drginge (963701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239554)

My iPhone told me to NAIL IT....can you give it the ticket?

Re:Honest Officer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239624)

Were you running the Jesus App?

Re:Honest Officer (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239778)

Were you running the Jesus App?

No, I was running the Your Mom App.

It won't work here (4, Informative)

rust627 (1072296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239574)

In the interests of efficiency, most lights here in Melbourne have been converted to a triggered system.

The idea is that the main road (determined by some guru in a government department) has right of way and light changes are triggered by cars moving over sensors at the stop lines of the red lights, in some cases (though not all) they can detect 2 cars per lane. Of course the habit of many drivers to sit back a good car length from the stop lines often means that they do not get close enough to the coils in the road to properly trigger them and as a result you get a few drivers saying"to hell with it" and running through a red light after waiting for 10 minutes. It is really funny to then see the lights change a matter of moments after, in response to the car driving over the sense coils in the road.

The result is that there is no correct speed to catch the green light because there is no direct coordination between lights.

Re:It won't work here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239684)

We used to have it here (melb) dandenong road or sth eastern arterial (late 80's i think) on display boards above road.

Not sure why they pulled it out. I always remember it displaying really slow speeds eg 67kmh on a 100kmh road.

Re:It won't work here (2)

Another, completely (812244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239956)

In Zurich, the urban planners are proud of their ability to force drivers to hit as many red lights as possible. They feel this will discourage people from driving in town, and somehow reduce pollution. Whether the net result of all those cars accelerating and braking all the time is actually better is another discussion, but if they ever thought that a system like this was becoming popular (thwarting their carefully annoying design) they would adjust somehow.

In case you are wondering, this is not my imagination or guess. They really are openly proud of how annoying they can make the local traffic [nytimes.com] .

Stay in Gear and look ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239580)

just let you foot of the gas and stay in gear, when you engine break in a modern car you don't use any fuel. you can even downshift if the RPM are getting to low, the same goes for driving downhill don't use the breaks use the engine break to drive without using fuel.

Re:Stay in Gear and look ahead (0, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239744)

"Brake". The word you want is "brake".

Re:Stay in Gear and look ahead (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239822)

11 Minutes before you posted this message you fucked up on the same work in the same manner further up the thread.

Not only have you not read the article, you are a grammar nazi that is bad at grammar. Go jump off a cliff, you'll do the world a favor.

Re:Stay in Gear and look ahead (3)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239866)

No.... When your engine breaks, you use no fuel. It's pretty obvious, really.

Roundabouts (2)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239586)

For as long as I can remember, I've always said that if the United States wanted to be serious about fuel consumption, that it would install roundabouts throughout it's cities.

The cost of the infrastructure switchover would be offset by the savings to tax payers in no time.

The government wouldn't like this because it means more money spent on infrastructure and less tax income from gasoline. In the end, less money fed to the machine.

It's good to see hackers like this out there trying to (and succeeding) in subverting the elite.

Re:Roundabouts (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239632)

Roundabouts are great, but when there's a lot of traffic, there actually worse than traffic lights, so they're not a panacea.

Re:Roundabouts (2)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239688)

Which is why you have dual roundabouts/traffic lights. Traffic flow light to moderate, let the roundabout self regulate. Rush Hours, you let the traffic lights direct.
Best of both worlds.

Re:Roundabouts (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239980)

True, but keep in mind that only works on the bigger ones.

Re:Roundabouts (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240050)

Um, no. I've seen those in place. Worst of both worlds. Load them up under traffic, and only one entering direction can operate at a time. (Instead of opposing directions, like in a standard traffic light.)

Re:Roundabouts (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239818)

That depends on a lot of factors. I'd guess that in a heavy traffic situation, a roundabout will still be better overall than traffic lights in terms of congestion. The problem is that it's much more difficult for a driver to navigate safely, given all the information that has to be processed, and in some cases, the bravery needed to use a gap in the traffic.

I used to have to drive through Aberdeen's Haudagain roundabout [wikipedia.org] on a regular basis, so I know how much of a nightmare it can be!

Re:Roundabouts (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239986)

Another thing to consider is that assuming people yield to traffic on the roundabout* then entrances immediately after popular exists will end up prioritised over other entrances. Depending on the importance of the various feeder roads that behaviour may or many not be desirable. With traffic lights the planners can control the priority of different entrances to try and avoid gridlock.

Also afaict if congestion backs up onto a roundabout it will completely freeze the roundabout whereas other junction types may still be able to permit traffic flow in other directions (particually if the roads feeding the junction have different lanes for different directions.

*If people DON'T yeild to traffic on the roundabout then the likely result is gridlock.

Re:Roundabouts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239682)

Dude,

We're running out of oil. Tax base will go away soon enough. If you really want to stick it to the man, you should buy a Range Rover for your dog walking business and get the tax writeoff for large commercial vehicles.

Oh and by the way, those gasoline taxes primarily go to road maintenance, at least in California.

I suppose I should also mention that a few roundabouts do exist here, as well as other things like speed bumps, artificial curves, islands -- primarily for traffic calming. It's long been noted that the safest freeway in L.A. is also the oldest and most harrowing to drive, the 110 from downtown to Pasadena.

Re:Roundabouts (4, Interesting)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239736)

They're installing 'traffic circles' in a few places in Miami now and they're making a mess of it.

A). No-one knows what todo at a roundabout. Both approaching it, and whilst on it. Whilst I've been on a roundabout, I've had people hurtling into my path. As I'm waiting for someone to pass in front of me, they stop in the middle of the roundabout and try to wave me on. (I'll let the fact that no-cars appear to have indicators in Miami go amiss...) Actually, no I won't let it go amiss, as it continues with lack of education that when there IS a roundabout, no-one ever gets the correct positioning it appears. Luckily, it's usually single lane roads, but the occasional 2 lanes feeding into it? NO-ONE gets into the correct lane for their turning (and I recall plenty of public service announcements in the UK to drill it home). So, education of what' they're trying to achieve needs to be implemented.

B) They have STOP signs AT the roundabout in many places. Apparently the city wants them, but the county has different rules, leading to Yield/Stop signs next to each other, not helping people learn what's supposed to actually happen. (Sure this part will be resolved shortly, but it's confusing everyone who's first experience of a roundabout is this).

C) Some places (key biscayne), they've filled the middle of the roundabouts with beautiful plants. That in Miami climes, grows RAPIDLY. Many roundabouts now, the vision is blocked horribly on your exit. There's going to be accidents, and it'll be totally avoidable..

D), Some states have no 'right of way' rule. Florida for example, if you're on a roundabout, you don't have right of way, no-one does. If you have an accident of someone plowing into you from the side, they may be able to fight in on court that you crossed their path. (never underestimate the power of lawyers to make a further mess of something). "He drove in front of me!" "yes, I was on the roundabout" "this court doesn't recognise a roundabout as a valid traffic item'

E) They've done a great job of building roads in the US, but without any though for the placement of a roundabout. Retro fitting them in some places is making some odd designs. (that probably just need a single stop sign, and a yield in the other direction, but no doubt funds are already appropriated)

F) And, like many other places, they put crossings RIGHT on the nearest part of the road, that with the amount of Flora previously mentioned, and the requirements to give way to pedestrians crossing, no indicators, no education on how to drive round a roundabout, means there's going to be issues.

G) odd planning. To place a roundabout at a junction, requires the 4 homes on each corner to give permission. If anyone disagrees, it won't be built (at least that's how I'm understanding it in Coral Gables). Many, not understanding what it's about, say no. The next junction, all the people may allow it. Leading to a confusing road journey filled with Stop sign, roundabout, roundabout, stop sign, roundabout, yield, roundabout with a stop sign, stop sign, roundabout. With some roads having more, some less. If you're going to do it, at least be consistent.

So, when I'm a passenger in a car and the driver encounters a roundabout and starts cursing that it's a terrible thing, and that they cause accidents, and don't improve traffic flow, I mumble under my breath "yeah, but only in America it appears..."

Re:Roundabouts (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239970)

You missed H) Miami's population has an unsettling number of senior citizens, many of which are particularly good at handling situations they are familiar with, let alone new ones. I would say the choice of Florida as a state to test things out on, is a direct intent to say "we tried and it failed let us never try again".

Re:Roundabouts (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239984)

D), Some states have no 'right of way' rule. Florida for example, if you're on a roundabout, you don't have right of way, no-one does.

Uh what? When you're on a roundabout, from a legal standpoint, you're going in a straight line. Someone entering the roundabout is turning. No new law is needed. Well, maybe in Florida, where the median age is approximately dead...

Re:Roundabouts (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240024)

You misunderstood me, I love roundabouts! Roundabouts are great, and people around here (Lisbon, Portugal) tend to use them correctly. It's just that when there's really _a lot_ of traffic, they get locked up much more easily than a junction with traffic lights, since changing lanes to get to the right one in order to turn away becomes difficult. Mix in some people trying to cut ahead, and it becomes almost completely locked up pretty fast.

as long as i can remember (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239924)

i've always said "dont drive down this street, theres a fucking roundabout and every time you go into it, someone just about kills you. whoever the fucking idiot is who put that roundabout in obviously doesnt live on planet earth. they should have built more bicycle lanes and made it easier to walk around the city instead of this bullshit"

Re:Roundabouts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239930)

For as long as I can remember, I've always said that if the United States wanted to be serious about fuel consumption, that it would install roundabouts throughout it's cities.

AFAICT, roundabouts take up more room than 'regular' intersections, so trying to retro-fit them into existing cities would entail knocking some buildings down to roads could be expanded at cross roads. Generally a non-starter in established urban areas.

For new developments though I'd agree.

Re:Roundabouts (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239972)

Besides saving fuel, there is a entangled issue of losing time in traffic because of slower speed (reminder: time is money).

Would I ever see the study in my lifetime that links those two issues?

Re:Roundabouts (1)

pEarl117 (2435422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240008)

Here in the UK, we're starting to think that the opposite is in fact true. As a couple of examples from where I live (near Portsmouth, Hampshire), a few years ago a large roundabout that was the source of daily large traffic and a constant accident blackspot was replaced at great cost with a complex traffic light system (you only actually go through one set of lights in whichever direction you're headed, but to the uninitiated it appears complex - many people complained at first until they got used to it - nowadays there are minimal traffic delays and I haven't heard of a single accident. Similarly, in my home town of Fareham, they're currently in the middle of a project to put a lane through the middle of a large roundabout and control the whole thing with lights, instead of the free-for-all that it was before, again it's expected to reduce traffic delays and help prevent accidents. In my opinion, a well-designed traffic light system can be much better than a roundabout at both cutting delays and fuel costs, and preventing accidents.

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Why not abolish traffic lights? (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239606)

Couldn't the same processing power and communication be used to avoid the need for traffic lights completely?

Re:Why not abolish traffic lights? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239698)

Yes it could ... if drivers scrupulously respected the indications of the magic box on the dashboard.

Adapting speed limits (1)

Zilog (932422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239650)

Adapt speed limits seems a better way to reach a fluent traffic and save fuel. In addition, the proposed device does not handle the other vehicles that could force you to inadequate low speed.

We can do even better and smarter (4, Insightful)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239662)

Instead pf reverse engineering the traffic lights timing, the responsible offices could simply document them, also on road signals.
All the stuff needed to reverse engineer the timings will produce more CO2 than simply say them.
Nonetheless, that idea is really smart.

THIS FPt" FOR GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239680)

The human drivers era is ending (4, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239720)

If you look at all the available safety systems coming in the next generation of cars:

- automatic braking
- infrared night vision
- reverse backup sensors
- adaptive cruise control
- lane departure warning systems
- traction control systems
- electronic stability control
- emergency brake assist
- cornering brake control
- precrash system
- automated parking

It is just a couple of steps away from turning you into a mere supervisor of your car's automatic driving.
If you add fuel efficiency to the safety concerns, it will add a new set or constraints that will give automatic driving an advantage over human driving.

those things have been coming for 30 years (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239906)

you can find advertisements from the 1980s about radar systems warning people about stuff behind them.

in reality, the cheap models of cars will not have any of that stuff, in order to keep the price low.

that is almost a necessity in this new age, where the distribution of wealth has become so uneven, where you have 9% unemployment measurements (and much higher in reality) , tens of millions of people on food stamps (a historical high), where minimum wage is not enough to live on, let alone buy a car, and more and more people are getting minimum wage jobs, while a very small number of people get most of the income.

you cant sell a bunch of fancy, gadget filled cars in such an economic environment.

Re:those things have been coming for 30 years (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239994)

in reality, the cheap models of cars will not have any of that stuff, in order to keep the price low.

Right up to the point where they're required by law to have them, like seat belts, air bags and antilock braking systems (required in the EU and will likely be required here in a few years).

Re:The human drivers era is ending (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239992)

Great. That will bring to the road even more idiots slowing me down when I am just five minutes after traffic hours trying to make it to the meeting I am overslept.

How about going draconian on would be drivers in traffic schools, drive tests and written tests? How about devising a system PREVENTING bad drivers to EVER step on the road?

How about acknowledging that there are far more people who will never be able to drive adequately that we know?

How about stopping yapping about how driving is not right, but a privilege and start acting on it by actually stopping giving it right and left to every single person above 18 who asks for it?

Re:The human drivers era is ending (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240062)

How about just giving all you Americans the UK driving test. Hardest one around, so I hear. The only thing it is missing is the Finns "ralley stage" driving on ice/snow. Though we don't have much of that to test us on.

Re:The human drivers era is ending (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240052)

Wonder how the class divide and inability to buy a new car will affect that vision.

Its been tried (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239766)

tells drivers the optimal speed to drive at to avoid waiting at the next set of lights."

The problem is that the speed to travel at to not stop at the next set of lights could be 12 km/h or 1.5 times the speed limit. It is hardly ever a speed you are actually going to travel at. We had a system in Melbourne which did this. They had to change it to not display a speed above the speed limit and then the displays showed stupidly low speeds.

Great for speed demons (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239882)

Don't forget: when you're perfectly synchronized with the traffic lights at 30 mph, you are also at 60 and 120 :)

Re:Great for speed demons (1)

andsens (1658865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239916)

What!?! How the hell do you figure that?

Better Idea (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239896)

Instead of saving 20% in fuel, why don't we rip up most unnecessary lighted intersections and replace them with roundabouts. The initial cost would be high, but the fuel savings for ALL cars will recover that cost in a few weeks.

Other applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239900)

This technology could also be used in conjunction with optical recognition of police cars, with their locations being reported to a real-time web application.

Once the technology gets cheap enough, we can start watching the watchers.

I have always Known (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37239946)

Town planners time traffic lights to make the traffic flow though cities , its the moron drivers , who go and screw the whole thing up by racing to the next set of lights.

It will all be obsolete soon anyhow as we wont be able too afford the insurance, let along get any petrol for our cars.

Re:I have always Known (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240058)

Town planners time traffic lights to make the traffic flow though cities

This is a bald-faced lie. I know of absolutely NO town where you can start at one end of town, drive the speed limit, and reach the other end of town without seeing a red light. You're welcome to document a counterexample.

Town planners time traffic lights to force traffic to stop.

No, if you are doing it during traffic hours. (4, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37239960)

Roads are not for "saving" on fuel or brakes. Roads are for getting from A to B.

You selfish "saving" on fuel leads to you occupying extra road time-space. You are basically hogging it, take it from other drivers, which leads to heavier traffic, in fact, very often it will lead to creation of extra traffic jams.

Instead of that technology, they should invent technology that will get medieval on the asses of those local government official who intentionally program traffic light system to slow drivers.

Big Brother... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37240010)

The real issue with this technology is privacy. You have a third party holding information about your cars speed, etc. Imagine what would happen if some party goes to court and asks for a warrant to collect that information...you could be screwed! So be careful.

But ... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240016)

You don't really have that much leeway in how fast you drive. Sure 5 above or below the speed limit is fine, but anything more and you will be pulled over at some point.

Wont work around here... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37240038)

IT seems the idiots here think drag-racing from light to light make it faster. it turned green! FLOOR IT!

Until they either increase the requirements to have a drivers license this green light trickery will be ineffective as all the nimrods will bunch up in front of you causing traffic delays and negating getting a green light. It's why I stopped all hypermiling tricks in town, all the other drivers drive like idiots.

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