Build smart cars, not wider highways | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Build smart cars, not wider highways

Posted By on Sat, Feb 18, 2017 at 7:18 AM

COMPUTER AIDED: Vehicle spacing can be smaller when computers do the driving. That could increase road capacity. - IEEE SPECTRUM
  • IEEE Spectrum
  • COMPUTER AIDED: Vehicle spacing can be smaller when computers do the driving. That could increase road capacity.

The galloping advance of technology contributes another point to ponder in the battle against the Arkansas Freeway Department's determination to build ever wider freeways, regardless of the damage they add to already concrete-gulched cities like Little Rock. See the jillion-dollar 30 Crossing project.

In a few words: Computer-controlled cars. Or driverless cars. Or semi-autonomous cars.

Check this article about how the rise in such vehicles (a development occurring faster than conventional thinkers might realize) will hugely increase capacity of existing highways.

On a highway filled to capacity by human drivers (which is about 2,200 vehicles per hour per lane), about five percent of the available road space is taken up by cars. Five percent. This is because humans are so bad at driving that we need lanes that are twice the size of our cars, and at highway speeds, we have to keep between 40 and 50 meters away from the car in front of us.

Researchers at Colombia University took a look at what would happen if we started relying on autonomous or semi-autonomous cars equipped with sensors and/or intervehicular communications systems, and the increase in efficiency is fairly incredible, simply due to the fact that cars can safely travel closer together.

It gets technical, but this study conclusion is fun to think about — even though a full conversion to robot cars won't be an immediate thing:

.... if we all just give up driving on highways and let robots take over for us, we could effectively end highway congestion as we know it by boosting the capacity of our existing roads by a staggering 273%.
The article notes that more efficient highways would be but one benefit. Roads would be safer, an enormous benefit in many ways. And "drivers" would have hands-free time to be "productive" during commutes. Work, play music, do Snapchat.

But this is Arkansas. No dreaming allowed. Pour the concrete!

Thanks Scott for this food for thought on a slow Saturday.

Tags: , , , , ,


Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • The inspiring Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton's campaign for president illustrates again the double standard applied to women. Some writers get it. They even find the supposedly unlikable Clinton inspiring.
    • Oct 16, 2016
  • Former Arkansas Baptist professor 'exploring' run for Little Rock Ward 7 city director

    Edmond "Ed" Davis, a former professor at Arkansas Baptist College and the executive director of a school applying for a charter in Southwest Little Rock, will announce the formation of an exploratory committee for a campaign for the Little Rock city director Ward 7 position. Brenda "B.J." Wyrick has held the position since 1994.
    • Apr 3, 2018
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016

Most Recent Comments

Slideshows

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation