Could Traffic Lights Become Obsolete In The UK

Thu 11th Oct 2018

Traffic lights on the road may become a thing of the past if Ford’s new ‘connected car choreographing’ becomes a reality.

A future without waiting at the red light may seem too good to be true, but the technology which is being developed as a part of the huge UK Autodrive trial could see connected car technology allow vehicles slow down, or speed up, to avoid collisions with vehicles approaching from other directions. The process is inspired by the simple dynamic pedestrians adjusting their speed to avoid bumping into others while walking.

“We know that intersections and traffic lights can be a real bugbear for many drivers,” said Christian Ress, supervisor, Driver Assist Technologies, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “With the connected car technology we have been demonstrating this week, we envisage a world where vehicles are more aware of each other and their environment, enabling intelligent cooperation and collaboration on the roads – and around junctions.”

Named the Intersection Priority Management (IPM), the technology has already been demonstrated on the streets of Milton Keynes, using vehicle-to-vehicle communications to coordinate with other vehicles in the vicinity. The technology suggests optimum speeds for cars to safely pass by each other at intersections with having to come to a stop.

There could be multiple benefits to the technology. It’s estimated that the average driver spends two days every year waiting at traffic lights. Traffic junctions are also the cause of up to 60 per cent of road traffic accidents, and the technology could also save on fuel as drivers avoid braking and accelerating.