Although traffic lights are certainly a far more efficient way of herding large volumes of traffic than the four-way stop, these ‘robots’ as we call them in South Africa are far from the ultimate solution.
For starters, there is plenty of wastage, even in the case of the best-timed intersections, as cars sit and idle while one or two vehicles from the perpendicular street get their turn. Efficient it’s not, but what if there was a better way of doing things?
Ford and Honda have recently presented ideas for ‘smart intersections’ although we are more than a little uneasy about one of them.
Ford’s proposed system uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to perfectly ‘choreograph’ the movement of vehicles through intersections. Inspired by the way pedestrians adjust their speed to avoid those crossing their paths, the tech that Ford is testing could advise drivers on what speed to drive through an intersection (which no longer has traffic lights) in order to avoid a collision.