The Atlantic Cities (via BusinessInsider) pointed us to an interesting simulation that shows how Google’s driverless vehicles could make intersections more efficient. The animation above came from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, and they imagined an intersection manager helping to direct the flow of computer-controlled cars passing through the intersection.
we won’t need traffic lights at all (or stop signs, for that matter). Traffic will constantly flow, and at a rate that would probably unnerve the average human driver. The researchers have modeled just how this would work, as you can see in the animation below. You have to admit the patterns are mesmerizing even if the whole idea still seems far-fetched. The yellow cars pausing at the intersection in this simulation are old-timey human-driven vehicles that haven’t yet caught up with the future
Those human-driven cars would have to wait for a signal that would be optimized based on what everyone else is doing. And the same would be true of pedestrians and bike riders. Stone says the system is designed to have flexibility under the assumption not all decisions would be made by computers alone.