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article imageNew traffic light tech reduces congestion by turning lights green

By James Walker     Apr 3, 2015 in Science
A new device fitted to the windows of cars that is being trialled in the UK aims to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in city streets by enabling vehicles to turn traffic lights green as they approach.
The device is fixed in place on the vehicle's windscreen in a similar manner to fitting a satnav. Once attached, it communicates with nearby traffic systems to announce its presence and turn the lights green, requesting priority as the car arrives at the junction.
Currently being tested in Newcastle in the UK, it can detect traffic lights located 100 metres away and allows drivers to adjust their speed such that they only ever pass through green lights. For example, a driver may be warned to travel at 24mph if they wish to pass through the next sets of lights without stopping.
The revolutionary scheme could dramatically cut polluting emissions from vehicles stopped at junctions. Travel time can be reduced as well as pollution and congestion in a win-win scheme for all.
The technology is also being tested by the North East Ambulance Service which hopes to create a safer, easier and quicker journey for patients travelling to hospitals. Some ambulance drivers have reported 10% savings on journey times.
Urban Traffic Management and Control manager Ray King said: "NHS vehicles are transporting patients to hospital for treatment and they don’t want to be held up in traffic unnecessarily, delaying appointments for other patients and wasting taxpayer’s money. If we can speed up their journey, giving them priority at lights where appropriate, then it not only reduces fuel bills and delays but also improves patient care.”
The Highways Agency is also considering the use of the technology on a route between the Nissan car factory in Sunderland and the Port of Tyne at night. It would allow driverless freight vehicles to navigate quickly between the factory and port, passing quickly without stopping through green lights and reducing polluting diesel emissions.
As self-driving vehicles become more commonplace on roads worldwide, such schemes are likely to gain more attention. Developers at Newcastle University aim to expand their tests across the city in the coming years as cars begin to communicate with the traffic infrastructure around them.
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