New algorithms may help merging traffic

May 24, 2006

A U.S. study suggests traffic metering systems using new algorithms could reduce the seriousness mishaps occurring near freeway on-ramps.

Metering systems try to improve traffic flow by restricting how many cars enter the highway each minute based on how many cars are already there.

University of Michigan Adjunct Professor Craig Davis says there are two basic types of traffic congestion: gridlock, in which cars stop, and synchronous congestion, in which two or more lanes of traffic all slow to the same speed. Synchronous flow occurs often near on-ramps, when cars don't give one another enough room to merge, or when too many cars are on the road.

Metering systems use computer algorithms to try to predict when a jam may occur, typically based on occupancy. Davis, however, based his algorithm on the throughput and rate at which vehicles are merging, not on highway occupancy. He found traffic jams occur when throughput exceeds about 1,900 cars per hour per lane; after that capacity drops by 10 percent or more.

Davis says simple politeness is always helpful, however, letting people merge is useful only if you don't slow down too much to do so.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: What neuroscience can learn from computer science

Related Stories

What neuroscience can learn from computer science

August 10, 2015

What do computers and brains have in common? Computers are made to solve the same problems that brains solve. Computers, however, rely on a drastically different hardware, which makes them good at different kinds of problem ...

Eliminating unexplained traffic jams

October 28, 2013

Everybody's experienced it: a miserable backup on the freeway, which you think must be caused by an accident or construction, but which at some point thins out for no apparent reason.

Smart computer learns from video

June 23, 2010

Swiss researchers have written a computer programme that is able to analyse temporal and spatial patterns of moving objects, and on top of that is capable of learning. This would be a significant aid in traffic monitoring.

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.