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An app way to beat traffic jams

120823_18

Traffic moves through an intersection in Phnom Penh. The new app is designed to help beat congestion in cities. Photograph: Reuters

Frustrated motorists could soon have a new toy to avoid traffic jams – a new mobile phone app has been designed to outsmart red lights.

Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton University have designed Signal Guru, software aimed at avoiding traffic congestion and cutting down gas wastage in stop-start traffic.

The app tells users exactly how fast to go to avoid arriving at a red light so instead of drivers spending fuel each time they pull away from a traffic light, motorists could glide without interruption.

The system collects photo captions of the traffic lights fed by smart phone cameras fitted on car dashboard and compiles the data into a traffic signal schedule.

With the signal pattern deciphered, the application advises the driver on speed adjustment to make the next green light or avoid jams by taking an alternate route.

According to MIT researchers, who tested the app on Singaporean and American roads, the new technology can cut down excessive gas consumption down by 20 per cent, liberating the engine from the start-stop action it is forced to repeat when stuck in a traffic jam.

“This has huge potential to save on fuel bills,” Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the MIT’s project leader told The Telegraph.

Previous experiments with motoring satellite technology have been dropped as a result of safety concerns.

Koukoumidis said he toyed with developing software which would advise drivers how fast to accelerate to beat the light, but decided against taking it further.

“We think this application is not a safe thing to have,” he said.

Signal Guru could run into its own problems due to over-dependence on crowd-sourcing. It relies on getting a number of users to download the app in order to develop a reliable network.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dagmarah Mackos at ppp.lifestyle@gmail.com

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