Researchers use stop-light cameras to reduce fuel consumption of less-efficient vehicles via traffic management

Posted: February 24, 2020 by oldbrew in Emissions, humour, research, Travel


The less efficient the vehicle, the shorter the wait at the traffic lights, and vice versa – electric cars and newer vehicles must wait longer. So the incentive lies with inefficiency – genius!

Approximately 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the US each year as vehicles wait at stop lights or sit in dense traffic with engines idling, according to US Department of Energy estimates.

The least efficient of these vehicles are the large, heavy trucks used for hauling goods—they burn much more fuel than passenger cars consume when not moving, reports Green Car Congress.

Now, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have designed a computer vision system—using the preexisting stop-light cameras of GRIDSMART, a Tennessee-based company that specializes in traffic-management services—that can visually identify vehicles at intersections, determine their gas mileage estimates, and then direct traffic lights to keep less-efficient vehicles moving to reduce their fuel consumption.

The ORNL project is a first-year seed project funded by HPC4Mobility, the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office’s program for exploring energy efficiency increases in mobility systems.

Proving such a system could work with current technology was a complicated puzzle that required fitting together a lot of different pieces: high-tech cameras, vehicle datasets, artificial neural networks, and computerized traffic simulations.

Full report here.

Comments
  1. Chaswarnertoo says:

    If it recognises 6 litre V8s and sports cars need to go first, good! 😎

  2. Jim says:

    That one made me laugh. Traffic engeneers helping move traffic along. More likely to make cars move in circles then to a destination. They are why traffic moves so slowly now. And then you add trucks to the mix.

  3. JB says:

    The computer craze lives on. Find another way to anticipate human behavior so another facet of life can be regulated.

    Just how long does it take such an unwieldy system to boot up? How many software updates will it require to fix dead ends in the code, hacking, and unforeseen hangs? Is there a default, fail-safe that keeps things running as the populace is accustomed to after lightning torches the artificial muttonhead?

    The best traffic flow I’ve ever witnessed at an intersection is the flashing red light. Everybody takes their turn, yielding to the right. It doesn’t take a lot of smarts to modify such a system for major thoroughfares with a lot less expense and simple hardware that can’t be hacked or interrupted.

  4. Russ Wood says:

    Having grown up in the UK, where all traffic lights are sensor controlled (I remember my friends and I jumping up and down on the pneumatic sensor strip to try to force the electro-mechanical light system to change!) I was astounded at the amount of wasted time and fuel caused by South Africa’s purely time-switched ‘robots’. If it was possible in the non-electronic 1940’s – why aren’t ALL traffic lights ‘smart’? In fact, I remember in the handbook for the first micro-computer (the 4004) an example program for controlling a standard traffic light controlled crossing.

  5. Gamecock says:

    ‘Approximately 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the US each year as vehicles wait at stop lights or sit in dense traffic with engines idling, according to US Department of Energy estimates.’

    Wasted? It’s not wasted. It keeps engines idling. Bogus assertion to get us to accept greater government intrusion.

    “The computer craze lives on. Find another way to anticipate human behavior so another facet of life can be regulated.”

    I must be odd. MicroSoft always anticipated wrong. Took me more time to fix their bad guesses than any time saved by anticipation.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Cars with stop-start tech will/would be penalised with longer waits. Priority for thirsty motors.

    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/stop-start-long-term-impact-your-car-s-engine

  7. stuartlynne says:

    Counterproductive to make it more attractive to retain inefficient vehicles because you are rewarded with shorter transit times.

    Overall more fuel savings if you make it less attractive to operate inefficient vehicles making increasing the conversion to newer more efficient ones.

  8. Gamecock says:

    They should also regulate based on what town you are from.

    How ’bout social credit points?

    Did you vote Tory?

  9. stpaulchuck says:

    So I guess I’ll trade my F-150 5.4 liter in for a 6×6. That should give me green lights all the time, ha ha.

  10. Gamecock says:

    I’ll get waved thru in my GT350R.

  11. ivan says:

    Another ‘solution’ looking for a problem. It is not a cut and dried as they seem to think especially in very mixed traffic flows. There we will see all the ‘boy racers’ tucked in behind a heavy lorry expecting to get a quick run through the lights.

    The other problem with this is do they get a lockup condition if two ‘priority’ Vehicles arrive at the same time from different directions?

    This appear to be an extension of the stupidity of ‘smart’ roads – why make it simple when there is a very complicated solution prone to failure available. Maybe someone should remind the designers of the KISS principle of engineering.

  12. Gamecock says:

    ‘There we will see all the ‘boy racers’ tucked in behind a heavy lorry expecting to get a quick run through the lights.’

    Why behind? The light turns green for everyone.

  13. ivan says:

    Why behind? The light turns green for everyone.

    Simple, once the lorry starts moving they zip out and round it – if they arrived on their own they would most probably be held up.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Maybe issue ‘gas guzzler’ stickers and award other road priorities to holders – to help ‘save the planet’, obviously 😆

  15. Richard Binns says:

    I think US traffic engineers should take a look at the UK. 90% of the lights used in the US would be replaced with rotary’s which can be as small as a 10′ circle painted on the road at junctions. Much better traffic flow and less fuel consumption -provided drivers use them correctly.

  16. Gamecock says:

    NFW, Binns. American drivers are too busy to actually drive.