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Honda develops technology designed to prevent traffic jams

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April 26, 2012

Honda has developed technology designed to orevent the 'accordion effect' that can bring t...

Honda has developed technology designed to orevent the 'accordion effect' that can bring traffic to a standstill (Photo: Shutterstock)

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While modern in car satnav systems can draw on real-time traffic congestion data and suggest alternative routes for drivers to avoid high traffic areas, Honda has taken a different approach to try and minimize the potential for traffic jams. The company has developed new technology designed to detect whether a person’s driving is likely to create traffic jams and encourage them to drive in such a way as to keep traffic flowing.

No doubt you’ve been forced to come to a stop in freeway traffic for no apparent reason. There’s been no accident, no lane closure, no dog on the road, but all of a sudden traffic comes to a complete standstill before moving off again. This stop-start freeway driving is pretty commonplace and is frustrating for those behind the wheel. It also increases travel time, the chance of rear-end accidents, and fuel consumption.

In 2007, research at the University of Exeter showed such traffic jams weren’t necessarily caused by heavy traffic alone, but by a “backward traveling wave” set off by a driver slowing down, causing the car behind to slow further, and the car behind that to slow yet further, and so on, resulting in a so-called “accordion effect” until somewhere down the line traffic comes to a complete standstill.

Now Honda has developed a world first technology that can detect whether the driving patterns of a vehicle are likely to lead to this kind of traffic congestion and suggests ways to avoid it. The system monitors the driver’s acceleration and deceleration patterns and, if it determines they have the potential to create a traffic jam, it encourages smoother driving via a color-coded display.

How Honda's system helps prevent traffic congestion

Honda says the system can be further improved by connecting it to cloud servers. This allows a vehicle’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system to automatically activate at the right time to sync with the driving patterns of vehicles located further up the road and maintain a constant distance between them.

Honda conducted testing of the system in conjunction with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo. Tests carried out without cloud connectivity and ACC resulted in an increase in the average speed of vehicles by around seven percent and improved fuel efficiency of trailing vehicles by around three percent. Adding the cloud and ACC to the mix improved the figures to 23 percent and eight percent, respectively.

As part of its efforts to bring the technology to market, Honda will conduct the first public-road testing of the system this year, beginning in Italy in May and Indonesia in July.

Source: Honda

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
8 Comments

Until then, give yourself three seconds with the car ahead, and don't get tempted into the race-forward/hard-brake syndrome. Better to crawl along at the "average" speed of the wave, and help the thousands cars behind you from propogating the wave.

Oh, and learn about ZIPPER MERGE... the best thing for easing congestion in lane reductions. Google .

Matt Rings
27th April, 2012 @ 11:44 am PDT

I was going to say the same thing as Matt Rings - were everyone, or at least most people, to use the 3-second rule, there'd be enough space to avoid having to slow down more than the vehicle in front of you, because it will (hopefully) have accelerated again by the time you actually get close to it. With everyone using the 3-second rule, that slowdown is absorbed by multiple instances of space. However, if everyone is only staying 20 feet from each other at 70 MPH, a traffic jam is practically inevitable.

Joel Detrow
27th April, 2012 @ 12:49 pm PDT

Also, don't use traffic as your personal slalom course. People that weave in and out of traffic make other drivers slow down. This starts a backwards wave of people slowing down...

What's funny is seeing how people slaloming (and thus slowing down aggregate traffic) manage to gain a big 20 yards over the rest of us. 20 yards for endangering a dozen people as you swerve in front and cut them off, and then you slow down to a stop anyway...because of some other jerks that were slaloming a few blocks ahead.

Jim Parker
27th April, 2012 @ 02:38 pm PDT

Nothing is certain but death and taxes ... and traffic lights.

Drivers need to use their rear view mirrors a little too.

I usually drive at about the speed limit, with no slaloming. Sometimes (usually once or twice per trip to the city) I'll see another driver weaving in and out, and then have to pull up at a red light. If they used their rear view mirror they'd probably see me sitting right behind them, although they passed me a couple of kilometres back.

What really gives me a good chuckle is when they've stopped at the lights and there's an empty lane beside them, which I drive in. More often than not, I'll catch the light changing to green as I'm approaching, and I don't have to slow down, thereby avoiding the acceleration from a halt, and these weavers find themselves way behind, and sometimes so far they catch the next red light which was green for me.

By speeding they are actually arriving at their destination later than they would if they'd driven at the speed limit. I call it speeding slowly.

joeblake
27th April, 2012 @ 07:05 pm PDT

That'a better way to drive but it won't solve traffic jams. The only thing that can do that is to improve the exit ramp system, so people who need to can get off the road quicker.

Facebook User
28th April, 2012 @ 11:33 am PDT

How about not passing on the right, and taking a step further, not driving in the left lane when not passing? If these 2 principles alone were followed it could save us from much unnecessary traffic.

It's sad that instead of limiting the privilege to drive on our public roads to intelligent motorists, we have to depend on manufacturers to come up with yet another way to make up for the shortcomings of the idiotic.

Knowledge Thirsty
29th April, 2012 @ 06:43 am PDT

I learned to drive a while ago and have since logged only 2 tickets. We were taught the 10 second rule. 10 seconds now seems like a lifetime and new drivers have no problem reducing my 10 seconds to 1 just by pulling in front of me and braking. I must have a sign on the front of my car, invisible to me, that instructs people to do that.

Mark A
29th April, 2012 @ 09:09 am PDT

Remove the 1% who cause the jams. Relocate them to rural areas where they cannot cause multiple car pileups- Wyoming, Montana, Sonoran Desert?

Don't even have to ticket them, just tell them they get to go to "The Island"

All those traffic cams must have some useful function, like identifying people who have no business being in heavy traffic.

Helios Higgins
29th April, 2012 @ 12:49 pm PDT
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