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Traffic Control for Autonomous Vehicles: North Carolina State University Proposes Fourth Traffic Light Color

In a future where autonomous vehicles dominate the roads, researchers from North Carolina State University have proposed the installation of a white traffic light as a fourth color to signal to drivers that self-driving cars are managing upcoming intersections intelligently. This innovation could reduce traffic congestion levels and overall fuel consumption.

The white light would communicate wirelessly with the self-driving vehicles to coordinate traffic flow more efficiently and intelligently. Human drivers and passengers would be informed to follow the lead of the self-driving cars through the white light, which would act as a sign. When the number of autonomous vehicles at an intersection drops below a certain threshold, the traffic lights would revert back to the normal red, amber, and green option.

The researchers conducted simulated models and found that introducing the white phase improved traffic flow and reduced fuel consumption by 40 to 99 percent in terms of total delay reductions possible. When the number of autonomous vehicles at an intersection goes above 30 percent, the improvements become even more significant.

Although we don’t yet have the technology to implement this innovation, the researchers believe that certain aspects of the white phase idea could be implemented relatively easily. Test runs in specific areas, particularly ports with high volumes of commercial vehicle traffic, could be the next step forward.

In summary, the white traffic light concept taps into the computing power of autonomous vehicles to coordinate traffic flow more efficiently and intelligently, improving traffic flow and reducing fuel consumption. Although implementation will take time and money, the potential benefits make it a promising concept for future transportation systems.



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