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Sat-nav system to dodge red lights trialled in UK

Researchers at Newcastle University are trialling a new type of sat-nav system which enables drivers to adjust their speed to ensure they past through lights on green.

Traffic lights on green-a sight we might see more ofThe system informs drivers of the best speed to travel at in order to avoid stopping at red lights. Such stop-start driving is bad for fuel economy as well as being frustrating for the driver.

It’s hoped that the new €10 million Compass4D project could lead to more fuel efficient journeys by reducing traffic bottlenecks and smoothing out traffic flow.

The technology is already being trialled in Newcastle, with the university working alongside Newcastle City Council to test the system’s effect on the journeys.

The new Compass4D system uses an in-vehicle communication system and links it directly to a Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) centre.

Direct to the driver

Unlike most smart traffic systems that are being developed, this one takes a simpler approach, by informing the driver directly of the appropriate action to take to pass through the city smoothly rather than take control the vehicle.

Could traffic jams become history?

Such a system could also help warn drivers of obstacles on the road ahead in real-time such as accidents or broken-down vehicles and suggest an alternative route.

Announcing the trial, Phil Blythe, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University, said: “Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what’s unique about this trial is that we will be giving information directly to the driver.

“For example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.  In more congested areas or particularly busy times of the day, then key roads might be given priority in order to keep the traffic flowing.”

Newcastle’s trial is part of a wider Compass4D project which involves six other European cities;  Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Eindhoven-Helmond in the Netherlands, Thessoloniki in Greece; Verona, Italy and Vigo in Spain. Key partners include Siemens and Volvo and the project is co-ordinated by the European Road Transport Telematics Implementation Coordination Organisation (ERTICO).

UK project lead Dr Yvonne Huebner, from Newcastle University, explains: “Every year there are more cars on the road and although there are initiatives in place to keep our cities moving congestion is still a major problem.

“And it’s not just car drivers.  By creating a joined up information system for all road users we can give other users such as the emergency services and bus drivers information which can help them get to their destination quickly and safely.”

The trial is the first of its kind in the UK.

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Faye Sunderland

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