Can you think of a more stressful time than being caught in a traffic jam? Those involved in the motoring world fortunately seems to see it as a problem, because technology is being developed and released with the aim to reduce or eradicate gridlock on the UK’s roads for good.
Join Ford Fiesta van, and other used vans, retailer Van Monster as they check out three key developments which could end the thought of dreaded traffic jams:
1. Smart motorways
Let’s begin away from the city with smart motorways, which are designed to actively manage the flow of traffic and are already seen for miles throughout the UK. Each stretch of smart motorway is controlled from a regional traffic control centre and is the responsibility of Highways England, with the idea being that traffic is carefully monitored so that vehicles have the best opportunity to flow freely along a route.
If you’re on a smart motorway, you’ll need to be aware of the following features which won’t be apparent on traditional motorways:
- A lane that has a red ‘X’ in the electronic signs that hangs over it shouldn’t be driven along.
- The hard shoulder — indicated by a solid white line — shouldn’t be driven along unless otherwise directed to do so.
- The smart motorway’s current speed limit will be indicated by gantries and should be kept to. The speed limit will change depending on the amount of traffic.
- Refuge areas should be used for emergencies at times when drivers can travel along the hard shoulder.
The M4, M5, M25 and M42 are among the motorways across the UK to have already introduced stretches of smart motorways. However, plans are in place to introduce many more throughout the country.
2. Smart cities
Sticking with the ‘smart’ theme, technology has been created through a collaboration between Siemens and NXP which may herald the arrival of a new generation of connected vehicles. Making use of in-vehicle chips designed by NXP which are incorporated with smart infrastructure that is being overseen by Siemens, the technology will allow vehicles to talk to each other within a city.
Cities which adopts this technology may soon be able to witness the following:
- The ability for traffic lights to turn green when roads are particularly busy.
- The chance for drivers to be instantly warned about any traffic jams on the road that they are travelling along.
- The opportunity for real-time information about general travel conditions to be communicated straight to vehicles and their drivers.
- The capability for drivers to be informed about any pedestrian crossings, stretches of road with lower speed limits or emergency vehicles that are nearby, via a hi-tech dashboard.
A launch date as early as 2020 has been earmarked by Siemens and NXP for their technology. However, cities will first need to implement the technology throughout their streets for the idea to be fully effective.
3. Vehicles and traffic lights which can communicate with one another
Vehicles and nearby traffic lights could soon be able to communicate with each other, should a development by German vehicle giant Audi see the light of day. Deemed ‘vehicle-to-infrastructure’ technology — or V-to-I for short — the revolutionary concept will see drivers being informed when a set of traffic lights are about to turn green. It will also act as a means of warning motorists if they won’t have enough time to make it through the lights before they turn red.
The communication of V-to-I technology will not always be one way though. This is because the technology will also make use of the cloud to send safety information and other operational data wirelessly from vehicles to traffic lights.
Audi is hopeful that its development will result in a reduction in congestion and also decrease the number of crashes that are recorded on roads. Furthermore, Pom Malhotra, the General Manager of the Connected Vehicles division at Audi, pointed out: “This feature represents Audi’s first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration.
“In the future we could envision this technology integrated into vehicle navigation, start/stop functionality and can even be used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”