Clemson engineers develop device that could eliminate traffic li - FOX Carolina 21

Clemson engineers develop device that could eliminate traffic lights altogether

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Woodruff Road Traffic (file/FOX Carolina) Woodruff Road Traffic (file/FOX Carolina)

Are traffic lights a thing of the past? It might sound far-fetched, but it could be the future of driving.

Clemson mechanical engineers, Ardalan Vahidi and Ali Reza Fayazi say they have developed a device that could save American drivers billions in fuel costs each year.

"Imagine you're driving at night and you come to an intersection and the traffic light is red, so you have to come to a complete stop. Then you notice that there’s no cars coming in the opposite direction, and you think to yourself, this is such a waste," said Ardalan Vahidi.

Clemson University professor, Ardalan Vahidi and Ph.D. student, Ali Reza Fayazi developed a traffic controller device that could eliminate waiting time, and avoid wasting time, sitting in traffic.

Developers say the goal of the device is to provide an energy-efficient solution to sitting in traffic, by controlling traffic flow through intersections. 

“We were able to show by using this technology that we can reduce the number of stops and reduce the fuel consumption. We can also make it more comfortable and maybe more fun for drivers to pass through the intersections," said Ali Reza Fayazi.

The developers say the traffic controller transmits signals between cars and traffic lights, telling drivers when to slow down or speed up.

The device then gives drivers a specific time to arrive at an intersection, helping them avoid getting stuck at stoplights.

"It can adjust its timing on the fly and more adaptively to allow the passage of more of these cars without stopping them at the light," said Vahidi.

Developers say it’s possible that traffic lights will one day be eliminated altogether; however, this would require all cars to be autonomous, or self-driving.

"Autonomous cars can adjust their speeds very precisely to arrive at the exact time that is allotted to them. Human drivers cannot do that. You don’t even need a traffic signal physically present," said Vahidi.

Vahidi says this technology could take years, but it’s not as far off as some might think.

“It would probably take more than 20 years, but then again, you can never know the future,” said Vahidi.

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