MIT Algorithm Computes Oncoming Car's Possibility of Running Red Light

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MIT researchers have developed an algorithm that can quickly compute in milliseconds the likelihood of a vehicle running a red light based on its rate of deceleration as it approaches the intersection. According to the Los Angeles Times, MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics Jonathan How and three of his colleagues have come up with an algorithm that can predict whether an oncoming car is about to run a red light one or two seconds before a possible collision.

The LA Times report says that the algorithm is described in a paper that will be published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems.

“That might not sound like a lot of time, but it could be enough to save a life,” according to How. As per the LA Times report, How and his team applied the algorithm to more than 15,000 vehicles at a busy intersection in Christianburg, Va., that was already outfitted with instruments that monitor vehicle speed and location as well as when the lights turned red. “They found that they were able to correctly predict who would run a red light 85 percent of the time,” wrote the LA Times.

According to the LA Times, that accuracy is the highest that has been computed so far. Interestingly, the researchers are now looking at the next logical step, how to avoid the accident. For that, MIT researchers are working on getting information about who is going to run a red light to other drivers on the road, so they can slow down and not drive into that intersection during that crucial time, wrote LA Times.

The LA Times quoted How, as saying, “that might be possible in smart cars of the future. If you had some type of heads-up display for the driver, it might be something where the algorithms are analyzing and saying, ‘We’re concerned.’”

In fact, “Even though your light might be green, it may recommend you not go, because there are people behaving badly that you may not be aware of,” noted How. However, How said that for such decisions, the cars must talk to each other and wirelessly trade information like speed and position data. In other words, there must be vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications.

Both, according to the LA Times, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Ford Motor Company are currently exploring V2V technologies.



Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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