Anyone who has ever driven some of our nation's more congested areas may argue that sitting in traffic for hours at a time is not natural human behavior, and they may be right. In fact, negotiating traffic may be more of the provence of insects, as a Gizmag report suggests.

Apparently, ants, bees and termites are all able to manage their traffic flow. The example given is ants, where the smaller of two converging groups will always defer to the larger group. According to Ozan Tonguz, a telecommunications researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, this instinctual behavior has potential applications in our traffic infrastructure.

The Virtual Traffic Lights system has been in development since 2009, and it would be able to determine which of two cars (or groups of cars) approaching a traffic light was larger and allow that group to proceed first. Once the larger group had passed, the smaller group would be allowed to go. According to Tonguz's simulations, this program could reduce commute times by 40 to 60 percent, not to mention the reduction in carbon emissions from a shorter commute time. This initiative has received $2 million, and a spin-off company has been created to help make it a reality.

Dresden University of Technology and ETH Zurich have come together on a similar system that would allow existing traffic lights to communicate with vehicles to improve traffic flow.

Sitting at a red light while the lane with the green can be frustrating and waste fuel. Let us hope these smart red light systems can be implemented everywhere soon.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      vwynn
      • 2 Years Ago
      the problem about this is... ants are practically single minded insects that all are working together for a single cause... keeping the queen safe. humans on the other hand are full of idiots that all think differently that end up plaguing everyone else... combined that with cars we have a congested freeway.
      WillieD
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Sitting at a red light while the lane with the green can be frustrating and waste fuel." What?
      GreaseMonkeySRT
      • 2 Years Ago
      Someone had to look at insects to figure out sitting at a red light to watch zero cars pass on the cross road is inefficient? How dumb are we becoming?
      MotionDesigner
      • 2 Years Ago
      Studying insects such as ants makes perfect sense. Nature always takes the quickest/shortest route possible.
      RWD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great! How about you start by fixing all the times we have to wait at a red light, with a line of cars behind... without a single car passing by on the street with the green? Seems like an easy place to start! I'd welcome even a modicum of intelligence in our traffic lights.
      Thereminator
      • 2 Years Ago
      That sounds great...but why don't we make synchronizing stop lights in the U.S. mandatory,first? Then we could work on enforcing passing lane speeds and tail-gating laws,maybe proper on and off ramp speeds.Yeah...I think this would help with Queuing,and re educating the brain dead masses with reality therapy seems to be the real solution to most social problems.For every highway patrolman there's several hundred driving idiots just begging to bail-out the American taxpayers and their political reps...another group just begging for a good dose of "reality therapy".
      dave and mary
      • 2 Years Ago
      One of the biggest problems I encounter is wire loop controlled stoplights that are not maintainted. How do YOU love waiting for the green when the oppositte turn arrow is on with no traffic? Or coming to a little traveled side road to wait wait wait for the timer to give you a green even though the side road has no traffic? ARGGHHH!
      FreeThinker
      • 2 Years Ago
      What does it say about us when a major facet of our civilization looks to ants for a solution? I think it says, "Find a way to stay out of the rat race/rush hour lemming patrol."
      John Riecke
      • 2 Years Ago
      This would require change. As we are all aware, change is bad, so this won't happen within our lifetimes. We have to wait for the current generation of traffic engineers and drivers to die off first.
      dimcorner
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't think it will work because there are no real consequences if an ant gets out of line. You don't need an antbulance and the antlice to show up to clear up the mess while passing antlookers clog up traffic... Sorry, it's a Monday :)
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Sitting at a red light while the lane with the green can be frustrating and waste fuel." I think you a word.
      speddedler
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kill off the weak ones! I did not read the article.
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