Here are couple of interesting articles related to car technology from the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) held in Las Vegas last week – CNET and Wall Street Journal. The CNET article talks about demonstration cars parking themselves and driving up to 40 mph. More interesting for traffic engineers is this snippet from the Wall Street Journal article –
For one on-road demo, Audi was allowed to tap into the Las Vegas traffic control center, which electronically monitors and controls traffic signals across the metropolitan area. An Audi sedan equipped with an in-car receiver was able to drive around town and display what the next traffic light on the road was about to do.
Approaching an intersection, for example, it could tell how many seconds remained before a green or red light would change.
In an unexpected twist, the Audi system also found some bugs in the Las Vegas control center’s system, including a traffic light in front of the Rio hotel and casino that had been permanently locked in “ambulance override,” preventing it from functioning normally. (The information was passed along to the traffic control center, which confirmed and corrected the issue.)
Of course, we’d like to think we have communications system to help us detect when a signal is malfunctioning. But this is a real world example of an issue that could have taken days or even weeks for the traffic management folks to catch and correct.
Government agencies putting real time data, such as signal timing, out into the cloud for private use was a big topic at last year’s ITE annual meeting. This small experience shows one small way government agencies can directly benefit from this collaboration.
Hat Tip to Bill Ruhsam.