Green lights all the way

Ford is trialling a new way in which connected car technology negotiates busy junctions that does not require the driver to wait at red lights or stop their vehicle.

Ford’s technology takes its lead from how humans negotiate their way through busy crowds, by slowing down or speeding up to avoid collisions, without coming to a standstill.

Intersection Priority Management (IPM) – being demonstrated on the streets of Milton Keynes, U.K., as part of the government-funded UK Autodrive programme – aims to keep drivers driving and bring an end to unnecessary stops at junctions, both easing traffic flow and increasing safety and efficiency.

IPM uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications to coordinate with other vehicles in the vicinity and suggests optimum speeds that will allow cars to safely pass by each other at intersections without coming to a halt.

For the trial, test cars have been equipped with V2V communication systems that broadcast the vehicles’ location, direction of travel and speed. The onboard IPM systems are able to identify an upcoming junction and the trajectory of other vehicles approaching it. It will then suggest an optimum speed for each vehicle as they approach the junction that will allow them pass through safely.

The vehicles in the trial have people behind the wheel, but it is envisaged that autonomous vehicles could also benefit from the technology. Automating how vehicles negotiate junctions with each other in this way that may mean that, one day, vehicles could pass through safely and efficiently without the need for traffic lights or road signs. While today’s autonomous vehicles operate independently using the sensor technologies and map data on board, V2V and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications technologies could benefit the driverless cars of the future.