It happens every time traffic gets too heavy and starts to slow: One inattentive driver panics and slams on his brakes, triggering a chain reaction that leads to a complete traffic stoppage a few dozen cars behind. If everyone could just slow down, pay attention, and maintain an even speed, we could all get where we're going. Honda hopes to deploy a new system to help make that a reality.

The Japanese automaker has developed the first-ever vehicle communications system geared to cut both traffic jams and fuel use by monitoring a driver's acceleration and braking habits and providing information that Honda says will encourage smoother driving.

Honda, along with the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, has developed on-board terminals that connect to cloud-based computing systems to allow communications between cars on the same road that can help drivers maintain a relatively constant driving distance between vehicles. Tailgating is bad for both traffic and fuel economy, and Honda's system discourages it.

The system differs from traffic monitoring systems that have been part of other vehicle communication systems in that it provides color-coded displays to indicate whether the driver needs to drive smoother and make acceleration and deceleration more gradual. The system can also work with adaptive cruise control to automatically regulate speed among a group of vehicles. The first public road tests will occur in Italy and Indonesia starting in May of 2012. Honda says the system can boost average speed by 23 percent and increase fuel economy by eight percent. Not bad for some cloud computing.

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Honda Develops World's First Technology to Detect the Potential for Traffic Congestion With the Goal to Prevent Traffic Jams

Public-road Testing to Begin in May 2012

TOKYO, Japan, April 26, 2012 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the successful development of the world's first*1 technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion and determine whether the driving pattern of the vehicle is likely to create traffic jams. Honda developed this technology while recognizing that the acceleration and deceleration behavior of one vehicle influences the traffic pattern of trailing vehicles and can trigger the traffic congestion.

In conjunction with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, Honda conducted experimental testing of a system utilizing the technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion. The test results demonstrated that the system helped increase the average speed by approximately 23% and improved fuel efficiency by approximately 8% of trailing vehicles.

With the goal to bring this technology to market, Honda will begin the first public-road testing of the technology in Italy and Indonesia in May and July of this year, respectively, to verify the effectiveness of the technology in minimizing vehicle congestion.

Rather than providing information to help the driver avoid existing congestion based on current traffic information, the system monitors the acceleration and deceleration patterns of the vehicle to determine whether the driver's driving pattern is likely to create traffic congestion. Based on this determination, the system provides the driver with appropriate information, including a color-coded display through the on-board terminal, to encourage smooth driving which will help alleviate the intensity of acceleration and deceleration by trailing vehicles, thereby helping to prevent or minimize the occurrence of vehicle congestion.

Moreover, the positive effect on minimizing congestion and fuel efficiency improvement can be further increased*4 by connecting the on-board terminals to cloud*2 servers to make the driver aware of and in sync with the driving patterns of vehicles ahead by activating the ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control)*3 system at the right time to maintain a constant distance between vehicles at the most appropriate interval.

Traffic congestion causes not only a delay in arrival time but also an increase in CO2 emissions and a higher potential for rear-end collisions. Striving to realize "the joy and freedom of mobility" and "a sustainable society where people can enjoy life," as stated in the Honda Environmental Vision, Honda will work toward the establishment of a congestion-free mobility society all around the world.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah, you leave a reasonable gap and some prick takes that as an invitation to cut in and make you hit the breaks. We need less jerks.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ive been doing this myself for years. In addition to helping traffic flow, it makes driving a manual easier with less shifts in traffic. You do get the jerks who take advantage of the cushion you leave and jump in, so road ragers need not apply. And it saddens me that the brainless zombie masses dont understand that tailgaiting and slamming brakes in traffic makes everything much much worse.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I know. That's why we need this system in ALL the cars, so those brainless zombies don't cause an accident.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That system is called me driving normally. Same goes for anyone else driving a manual transmission car in traffic. Thank you very much.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Like so many of these other electronic aids they have already existed in other forms for ages... its called not following the car ahead of you so close that the second you see his taillights, you have to smash down your own brake pedal for fear of plowing right into him. If you give yourself enough room you're all set.
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's funny, cause i find myself doing this in traffic sometimes so that other people behind me don't have to slam on brakes. I always try to break the cycle whenever i can.
        • 3 Years Ago
        You mean you think and anticipate when you drive? What a revolutionary idea.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a great idea, it's just sad that most people need their cars to do this for them.
      oly va ha
      • 3 Years Ago
      why dont they just teach people not to hit their brakes to slow down a few miles an hour...down shift if you have a manual or just let off the gas pedal. the more you brake the more people behind you brake, in turn creating a traffic jam.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @oly va ha
        With manual transmission, usually letting up on the gas starts engine braking (less so in 5th or 6th gear) and you smoothly slow down before the red light. But, as we know, that type of driving requires thinking.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good drivers do that already, it's called paying attention.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Riding a motorcycle in LA and with being able to split traffic you see exactly what is causing the traffic jams as you can make it all the way to the front. 9 times out of 10 it is just people driving really slow across all lanes. I don't know how many times I've come across dead stopped traffic miles long only to get to the front and see completely open highway in front of the cars. Doesn't bother me on a bike as I now have an open and safe highway infront of me. In my car, it just infuriates me. The other issue is that no one accelerates at a light. They'll take 30 seconds to get up to 45mph from a red light. This cause such a slow reaction for all the cars behind to get up to speed resulting in dozens of cars not making the light creating more backup behind them. Rinse and repeat.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Also, I am glad BMW, Audi or Mercedes Benz are not developing this technology. Germans don't believe in simplicity. They should not be allowed to make cars. If they do, the cars need to be pre-approved by Japanese engineers.
      • 3 Years Ago
      No amount of computing horsepower will make bad drivers into good drivers. Or, stated differently, PEBSWAS: Problem exists between steering wheel and seat.
      • 3 Years Ago
      There's already a "signalling" system in place in many parts of the world. It's called Active Traffic Management, specifically the "speed harmonization" part of it. It involves speed limit signs above each lane and the ability to close a lane due to an incident. Germans started exploring this in the 1960s, and now systems can be found in Germany, UK, Netherlands and Washington State.
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