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How Intelligent Vehicles Will Increase the Capacity of Our Roads

By Technology Review

December 23, 2009

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Traffic flow will improve as more computer-controlled vehicles hit the road, according to new research from Arne Kesting and colleagues at the Technical University of Dresden. "One percent more [computer-controlled] vehicles will lead to an increase of the capacities by about 0.3 percent," according to the researchers.

However, traffic capacity is expected to improve even more once vehicles are capable of communicating with each other, which would allow them to move nearly bumper to bumper, in a platoon. Traveling as one unit, vehicles would be able to communicate the moves they intend to make, and platooning also should lead to better fuel efficiency.

At this point, legal issues such as liability in a platoon crash remain more of a challenge than the technology. Adaptive cruise control systems use a radar or laser-based device to monitor the road, and to control both the accelerator and brake to keep a vehicle at a certain distance from other vehicles.

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