A Simple Solution For Traffic Jams

Hours of frustrated waiting in traffic — this is a reality that Bengaluru car drivers face almost every day and so do many car drivers in major cities across India, although not as bad as how Bengaluru folks have it.

Now help is on the way … in the form of AI. A new experiment conducted in Nashville, USA shows that the problem with traffic jams is … us humans.

Human drivers just don’t do a good job of navigating dense traffic conditions. They brake too often and accelerate too fast.

One person taps the brakes for whatever reason. The person behind them takes a second to respond and has to brake harder. The next person has to brake even harder. The wave of braking continues. As traffic clears, the drivers accelerate too quickly, causing more braking and a jam.

The experiment was conducted on a premise that if even 5% of the cars on the road were acting sensibly, hopefully, everyone will fall in line resulting in fewer of these “phantom” traffic jams.

The researchers used 100 cars for this experiment, coordinated with AI technology. Information about traffic conditions was first used to create an overall speed plan and the plan was then broadcast to the cars, which used AI to decide the best path to take. And this experiment seems to have worked!

So, is discipline the solution to avoiding traffic jams? At one level, it sure does appear so. But if there are more vehicles on the road than the road can handle, traffic jams are inevitable. We can make them less painful by being disciplined. Ain’t that our biggest problem?

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