The company has installed its technology at around 50 intersections in Pittsburgh and equipped intersections in Quincy, Mass., Atlanta, and metropolitan Toronto and Philadelphia.
There is a two-pronged approach to Rapid Flow Technologies’ attempts to prevent traffic congestion. One of them is the basic software Surtrac, which offers adaptive real-time signal controls based on a multimodal traffic flow. Routecast, tested with Argo, is a more forward-looking layer of technology that has routes from users ready to serve them. Understanding the routes in advance will give the software’s predictive elements greater confidence in traffic flow.
“It improves everyone’s experience, and that leads to a gradual change,” said Schultz. “It’s a new way of thinking about a connected vehicle.”
In fact, it may be an old way of thinking about connected vehicles. For more than two decades, the federal government has been trying to generate traction for what is known as V2X technology, which vehicles can use to transfer safety information between vehicles and infrastructure.
The starting of these vehicle-to-vehicle transmissions has been delayed by years of disputes over which method to use to send these messages. However, with infrastructure as a focus, information could be carried in cars without new equipment.
According to Schultz, information for Routecast could come from interested fleets, navigation systems embedded in cars, transit vehicles and from the mobile phone of every road user. Road users who are not interested in passing on detailed route information still receive some advantages in terms of traffic reduction.
In the Argo pilot, the flow of information was only one-way. Information flowed from the vehicle to the traffic light.
Going forward, the traffic lights may be more of a two-way exchange, with self-driving vehicles being given information on the status of traffic lights that may be obscured, or information on how many seconds there are before a green light so they can customize theirs Speeds accordingly.
“It’s a future shape, we’re not saying it’s still there,” said Rander. “What really excites us about Rapid Flow are the benefits of maintaining traffic flow and the continuity of traffic management. There are many, many promises there.”
Not just for self-driving vehicles, but for every road user who could benefit from the effects of broader collaboration.