Much effort will be spent making vehicles more efficient in the future. This is a very good thing for both the individual, and the government. However, very little effort has been expended to make our traffic control system more efficient. Two are two reasons for this. First, it has been historically difficult to interconnect traffic intersections with a central control facility. Even after all the connections are made, maintaining the infrastructure becomes daunting, and expensive. Second, many cities are a patch-work of many different authorities, each with differing agenda's and budgets. Therefore, my idea is to create an autonomous traffic control system. The system would consists of a simple hardware upgrade to the existing hardware already present at a traffic intersection. To create an autonomous system the hardware located at a traffic intersection would need three things. First, an automatically adapting software algorithm would be used. The software would continuously trim and adjust traffic flow patterns so as to gain the maximum throughput (or efficiency). Second, to maintain the traffic flow pattern (without timing drift) the system would rely on timing signals from GPS. The GPS signals are very accurate and very inexpensive to receive. And third, the system would rely on traffic input sensors. The sensors would be used in the feedback loop within the adaptive software algorithm. There are a couple of things to note about this idea. First, it would be low cost to implement. Second, simply by upgrading an intersection, the adaptive software algorithm would immediately start searching for (and find) efficiency gains. But the more important gain would be that the system would adapt to future changes. No person would be required to "retune" the intersection when a new subdivision entrance was added. As a further example, even seasonal adjustments would be done automatically. I believe the gains to the motorists from this system could be profound. If all the traffic control intersections, within a geographic area, we retrofitted with this system it would appear to the motorist that all the traffic lights were interconnected as in "progressional traffic system". The fuel saving alone would pay for this system in very short order.
Idea No. 54