Could new technology make being stuck in traffic a thing of the past?

Nobody enjoys being stuck in traffic – it's stressful and only seems to happen when you need to be somewhere imminently. We all have our ways of avoiding the daily jams, methods that range from early departure times to longer routes that avoid the busiest roads.

A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dedicated themselves to making traffic avoidance easier and have subsequently developed a new way of avoiding jams, utilising technology that connects vehicles.

The new system named 'Roadrunner' uses the driver's mobile phone to figure out the position of the car. As more and more cars are starting to get connected to the internet, MIT say that the new technology will one day be able to connect directly to the car and use two methods to pinpoint the car with more accuracy.

Roadrunner then assigns each vehicle a token once they enter onto the piece of road with the technology installed. The system monitors how many 'tokens' enter the stretch of road; should this then become congested, approaching vehicles have their token removed and are advised of a new route. A driver can still enter the busy area without a token but in the future this could be an action that carries a fine, should law enforcement agencies decide it's necessary.

Roadrunner allows for effective calming of traffic without the need for tollbooths or traffic monitoring cameras and speed calming zones. The need for no new infrastructure makes the new system incredibly easy to implement; strengthening it against similar systems that require material installation.

One such system is currently being used in Singapore. Currently one of the most advance systems in the world, it levies tolls based upon how much traffic is on that particular stretch of road. Unlike Roadrunner, the current scheme in Singapore requires large gantries to be built over the road; therefore making it slow to implement.

Roadrunner simulations and real world tests have shown that the system can increase average speed, during peak traffic periods, by about 7.7% when compared to the Singapore toll-based system.

On-going advancements in vehicle technology could see systems like this implemented worldwide. The introduction of new radio and internet systems in cars will help with these new systems and could see systems like Roadrunner worldwide soon.