Hitting the brakes on the freeway could cause a chain reaction of braking behind you, creating yet another traffic jam during the evening commute. But the traffic condition commonly referred to as stop-and-go traffic could be eased by new driving monitoring technology from Honda.
Honda, in conjunction with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, developed technology that detects potential traffic congestion caused by a vehicle's acceleration and deceleration. The system identifies congestion on the road and coaches the driver with alerts and displays to respond to the road conditions in a way that won't cause a backup. For example, rather than braking when the vehicle ahead brakes, the driver could create more distance between the two vehicles and potentially absorb the slight change in speed.
Test results have demonstrated that such a system could increase the average driving speed by approximately 23 percent. In addition to saving time, the technology can also save drivers gas money. By eliminating the need to start and stop during traffic, the technology improves fuel consumption by approximately 8 percent.
For vehicles equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, the traffic feature could theoretically be connected to a cloud-based system to sync vehicles with each other. That may sound far fetched, but Volvo is already testing out a similar caravan solution with its Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) pilot project. Vehicles in a SARTRE platoon are essentially on autopilot as they follow a lead vehicle, with each car moving at the same speed.
Honda expects to begin road testing of its new traffic congestion system in Italy and Indonesia in May and July, and hopes to commercialize this feature in vehicles. Of course, the same effect could be had without the fancy networked technology if all drivers simply drove at a constant speed and followed with enough distance to absorb slight changes in speed.