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How New Technologies Will Ease Our Traffic Woes

New Scientist (07/15/09) Graham-Rowe, Duncan

A new generation of monitoring and data-gathering technologies could drastically alter how people travel by car by providing them with more accurate information on traffic conditions.  These new technologies also could provide real-time advice on journey times and fuel consumption based on previous driving habits.  In-car monitors could help safe drivers benefit from reduced insurance premiums by demonstrating to their insurance companies that they are at a lower risk of having an accident.  Currently, most traffic monitoring is done using wire-induction loops buried under main roads, but traffic authorities want to build more sophisticated systems into existing road infrastructure.  The University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory is exploring attaching wireless infrared sensors to lamp posts and stop lights, which already have built-in power sources.  The University of California, Berkeley’s Mobile Millennium project is working to gather information on vehicle speeds and traffic levels from global positioning system-enabled cell phones carried by drivers.  The project blends encrypted location data with traffic information from other sources before broadcasting the results back to users’ phones.  Meanwhile, Microsoft has developed a system called JamBayes that continuously analyzes current and historical traffic patterns to make predictions about future road conditions, including journey times, congestion-free routes, and warnings to drivers about impending gridlock.


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