Automated highway system

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Grouping vehicles into platoons is a method of increasing the capacity of roads. An automated highway system is a proposed technology for doing this.[1]

Platoons decrease the distances between cars using electronic, and possibly mechanical, coupling. This capability would allow many cars to accelerate or brake simultaneously. Instead of waiting after a traffic light changes to green for drivers ahead to react, a synchronized platoon would move as one, allowing up to a fivefold increase in traffic throughput if spacing is diminished that much. This system also allows for a closer headway between vehicles by eliminating reacting distance needed for human reaction.

Platoon capability might require buying new cars, or it may be something that can be retrofitted. Drivers would probably need a special license endorsement on account of the new skills required and the added responsibility when driving in the lead.

Smart cars with artificial intelligence could automatically join and leave platoons. The automated highway system is a proposal for one such system, where cars organise themselves into platoons of eight to twenty-five.


Potential benefits

Potential downsides

  • Drivers would feel less in control of their own driving, being at the hands of computer software, or the lead driver

Automated highway system

An automated highway system (AHS) or Smart Road is a proposed intelligent transportation system technology designed to provide for driverless cars on specific rights-of-way. It is most often touted as a means of traffic congestion relief, as it would drastically reduce following distances and headway, thus allowing more cars to occupy a given stretch of road.

How it works

In one scheme, the roadway has magnetized stainless-steel spikes driven one meter apart in its center[citation needed]. The car senses the spikes to measure its speed and locate the center of the lane. Furthermore, the spikes can have either magnetic north or magnetic south facing up. The roadway thus provides small amounts of digital data describing interchanges, recommended speeds, etc.

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