By in Technology

The end of traffic lights

Yesterday – for some reason – I was thinking about self-driving cars. And I realized that when all the cars on the road are self-driving, there won’t be a need for traffic lights. Years ago, I worked the midnight shift at this place, and I don’t know how many times I’d be driving through town at midnight with absolutely no other traffic, and I’d get stuck at a red light that was on a timer. I’d sit there for over a minute almost screaming, “There’s no f---ing point to this!” But if I had a self-driving car, it would get on the self-driving chat network and ask, “I’m approaching Intersection 15743486N. Is anyone else approaching it?” When it found out no one else was coming, it would just zip on through; no fuss, no muss.

Of course, the really interesting thing would be intersections with lots of traffic. Now, one direction stops so the cross traffic can go. But if all the cars can talk to each other, then they’d work out the timing so that there would be gaps in front of and behind every car that would be wide enough so the cross traffic can go through. At first, these gaps would be rather big because if you’re zipping along at 50 mph and another car passes in front of you with just inches to spare, it would give many of us old-timers heart attacks. But as the generations got used to the idea, the gaps would become smaller, until cars passing within inches of each other became normal. Or maybe, instead of windows we’ll just have screens so we can watch movies as we’re driven to where we’re going.

Image Credit » by Didgeman

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MegL wrote on March 20, 2015, 4:01 PM

yes, that sounds an interesting idea.

megamatt09 wrote on March 20, 2015, 6:42 PM

Just seems like it would be weird without traffic lights. Then again, the entire idea of self driving cars is a bit odd and unsettling.

crowntower wrote on March 20, 2015, 9:40 PM

I don't know, if the number of cars are big, there are a high probability that there will be traffics, because just like of today, they well will know that hundreds of cars like himself is going to different directions, and one must stop and other must go.

inertia4 wrote on March 22, 2015, 12:53 PM

oneoveralpha Although I would agree with you on this, I doubt they will remove the traffic lights. They might become conduits for the smart cars to communicate. Which would make sense. But we have to remember, like with any other technology, there will be malfunctions. And they could deem fatal as well. They need to release that hidden transportation device to the public. Then there would be no need for cars either.