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November 6 2012

Virtual traffic lights help solve commuting hell


Your average driver spends a week each year stuck in traffic. So Ozan Tonguz, a telecommunications researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is looking to nature for an innovative solution to gridlock. His team is trying to emulate the way in which ants, termites, and bees communicate right of way in busy colonies and hives.

Tonguz's company, Virtual Traffic Lights, recently patented an algorithm that directs traffic at busy junctions. As cars approach the intersection, they use dedicated short-range communications to quickly exchange information on their number and direction of travel. The largest group of vehicles is given an in-car green light. Cars in the other cluster see a red light and have to wait.

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