Mathematical equation could reduce traffic jams

Nov 06, 2013
Mathematical equation could reduce traffic jams

(Phys.org) —New research has found traffic jams and accidents could be reduced by controlling the reaction times of robotic cars.

The study, led by Dr Róbert Szalai at the University of Bristol, is published in Physical Review E.

The researchers have developed a mathematical technique that allows the calculation as to whether there is a chance a traffic jam will happen from a uniform flow of traffic.

Dr Róbert Szalai, Lecturer in the Department of Engineering Mathematics, said: "The analytical nature of our research means it could be used to understand all sort of systems, such as to design that could work well in a mixed human-robotic environment or control gene regulation in living organisms, for example suppress the expression of some harmful gene."

City traffic is made up of cars that are similar but not identical. Computer driven cars are also similar, but they can react faster and through wireless communication observe traffic not just in front of them.

Current understanding of traffic is somewhat limited to identical cars, so to advance technology and design safe robotic drivers the researchers needed to understand models including non-identical participants.

The study has found that by using the design tool and controlling the of robotic cars this can reduce the possibility of and accidents.

The researchers hope to develop in the future more realistic car-following models and connectivity structures. It is hoped that by using similar mathematical equations the research can be used to understand of all sorts of systems from robotic/human cars in traffic, gene regulatory networks and neural networks that could explain epileptic seizures.

Explore further: LA stoplights synchronized but road war endures

More information: Decomposing the dynamics of heterogeneous delayed networks with applications to connected vehicle systems, Róbert Szalai and Gábor Orosz, Physical Review E, 29 October 2013. link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevE.88.040902

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User comments : 12

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dogbert
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 06, 2013
There seems to be a continuing desire to turn control of automobiles over to robots. Bad idea.

Traffic jams are irritating but not so irritating as people who die because a machine seized control of the vehicle.
Doug_Huffman
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 06, 2013
A good virus, meme or pandemic could reduce traffic jams too.

John Forester demonstrated with a mathematical formula that a bicyclist couldn't delay a motorist years ago - still ignored. Bicycle Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers, Chapter 8 'Effects of cyclists on traffic'
Humpty
1 / 5 (13) Nov 06, 2013
Get rid of the cars you retards....
tadchem
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 06, 2013
Computer models of traffic track a finite number (hundreds to thousands) of objects with individual properties (size, speed, reaction time) as they 'flow' in an essentially one-dimensional system. They are making progress, but a full understanding of the dynamics is still in the future.
Imagine if the problem were expanded to 3 dimensions and 10^30 or so objects - something like a planetary atmosphere.
The dynamics of heterogeneous compressible fluids may remain a semi-empirical inexact 'science' for many years.
wealthychef
5 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2013
There seems to be a continuing desire to turn control of automobiles over to robots. Bad idea.

Traffic jams are irritating but not so irritating as people who die because a machine seized control of the vehicle.


What's irritating is the fact that more people die now without robotic control than would die with it. If 50 people are killed by robot accidents per year instead of 5000, I for one welcome the robots.
dogbert
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 06, 2013
wealthychef,
What's irritating is the fact that more people die now without robotic control than would die with it.


You are wrong. I would, however, be interested in how you arrived at that conclusion.

If your car were taken over by a robot and a child died as a result, would you continue to promote robot vehicle intervention?

Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (12) Nov 06, 2013
Who will be liable for robot-vehicular homicide?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2013
There seems to be a continuing desire to turn control of automobiles over to robots. Bad idea.

Why exactly is that a bad idea? Driving a car is a bother most of the time (to/from work, shopping, ... ). Time that could be spent doing stuff one enjoys (communicating, reading, sleeping, ... ). If the chance of danger/damage is significantly lower due to robotic cars I'd have no problem using one (yeah, yeah, yeah...we ALL think we're above average drivers - but at least one in a crash usually is not. And at that point it doesn't matter whether you were the 'good' or the 'bad' driver - the force of impact gets distributed equally)

If your car were taken over by a robot and a child died as a result, would you continue to promote robot vehicle intervention?

I'll field this one:
If the alternative means that 10 children die: yes.
dogbert
1 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2013
antialias_physorg,
If the chance of danger/damage is significantly lower due to robotic cars I'd have no problem using one ...


I was discussing the fact that a robot car cannot drive as well as an alert, normal human. Not a hypothetical situation which does not exist.

If the alternative means that 10 children die: yes.


Another hypothetical which is not congruent with reality.
dogbert
1 / 5 (10) Nov 06, 2013
Doug_Huffman,
Who will be liable for robot-vehicular homicide?


My question as well. If a car manufacturer installs robot interventions into a car and those interventions cause severe injury and/or death to a person or persons, the car manufacturer should bear the liability, particularly if the interventions are unable to be bypassed by the driver.

As a practical matter, legal issues are seldom so clear and easily settled. Also, since car manufacturers are developing these interventions at frightening speed, I wonder if they have the intention of gaining immunity from governments before they force them on the public.

Again, these developments are a bad idea.
kris2lee
1 / 5 (2) Nov 09, 2013
The problem of robotic driving is that it would be another attack on our freedom.

When at the moment people themselves decide where and when they drive somewhere then this may not apply any more when all cars are robotic and are connected to the network.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Nov 09, 2013
The problem of robotic driving is that it would be another attack on our freedom.

I don't think you understand the difference between a freedom and a privilege.
Driving isn't a freedom - it's a privilige.

You can see the difference in the fact that you have to get a permit to drive. If it were a freedom you would not need a permit.

When at the moment people themselves decide where and when they drive somewhere then this may not apply any more when all cars are robotic and are connected to the network.

How exactly is that relevant. Even with robotic cars people have the right to decide when and where they drive. (And a lot of people with limited mobility - like the handicapped and elderly would benefit immensely)

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