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20 August - Technology could help motorists beat red lights
It is the ultimate source of frustration for motorists, crawling through a town being stuck behind a succession of red traffic lights.
But there is a hope for drivers that one day that every traffic light they face will be green.
This is thanks to work being done by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who are devising technology that could make stop-start motoring a thing of the past.
Instead of drivers wasting fuel each time they pull away from a traffic light, motorists could glide effortlessly on their way, without interruption.
This could be done if they were told exactly how fast they should go to avoid arriving at a red traffic light.
Scientists at MIT have shown that this is possible thanks to a series of trials.
One has taken place at Cambridge, Massachusetts - where the lights change at fixed intervals - and the other in Singapore where their frequency is dictated by the level of traffic.
The MIT scientists have gathered information about when traffic lights change by fitting mobile phones to car dashboards.
Using the inbuilt camera, the phone takes a series of pictures of lights with the captured image being fed to a computer which analysed the pictures and works out when they they will change.
"We aggregate the information and use it to predict when lights will change," said Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the scientist behind the technology known as SignalGuru.
Once the information is crunched, the computer is able to calculate the best speed to avoid being caught by a red light.
This is in turn transmitted back to the telephone and displayed to the motorist on a screen.
According to Mr Koukoumidis, the trials have been remarkably successful, with at worst the phones being only one second out of predicting when the lights would change.
"This has huge potential to save on fuel bills," he added.
News Source: www.telegraph.co.uk
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