Should a fourth light be added to traffic signals for autonomous cars?


What do you think about adding a fourth traffic light color to traffic signals for self-driving vehicles to help control traffic flow?

I understand that one day a bunch of connected autonomous cars may outnumber humans behind the wheel. The thing is, if traffic lights somehow gave driverless cars an advantage over the cars you and I drive, it would be a no-brainer for me.

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A recent study was published by Institute of Electrical and Electronics EngineersArguably so.

Simulations are being conducted, and researchers are quickly realizing that a fourth traffic light can improve travel times through intersections and reduce fuel consumption.

Adding a fourth traffic light may be advantageous for travel times. (

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How will the fourth traffic light work?

The concept is known as ‘White Phase’ and will essentially introduce a new traffic signal so drivers on the road know what to do around autonomous vehicles or AVs.

Red, yellow, and green traffic lights will remain the same and have the same meanings as stop, caution, and yield, and it is safe to proceed.

With the addition of additional white light, human drivers will be signaled to follow the car in front of them.

The white light will direct driverless cars to coordinate traffic which can help you as a driver.

The white light will direct driverless cars to coordinate traffic which can help you as a driver. (Zooks)

CAVs, aka connected autonomous vehicles, can communicate wirelessly with each other and with the computer that controls the traffic signals.

So, when there are too many driverless cars at an intersection at a time, they will be able to activate the white light. This will force human drivers behind driverless cars. All you have to do is drive whatever driverless car is in front of you (if it stops, you stop. If it goes, you go). This will help driverless cars coordinate traffic through intersections more efficiently.

In one part of the study, if there are more human drivers on the road than AVs, the traffic light can revert to its regular 3-light style. Yes, thank you.

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Is this a safe concept?

The concept has been significantly improved since it was first introduced in 2020. “It’s both more efficient and less prone to communication failures,” says Ali Hajbabi, an associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the IEEE study.

For example, if there is an interruption or time lag in communication with a traffic light, the distributed computing approach will still be able to handle traffic flow smoothly.”

Researchers are continuing to test this concept with the help of microscopic traffic simulators, which are simulators that can mimic real-world traffic.

These simulators are showing researchers that the presence of AVs and the fourth traffic light improves traffic flow and reduces fuel consumption as there is less stop-and-go traffic. And with Amazon’s self-driving car recently making its first successful trip on public roads, we can likely expect more driverless cars on the road in the near future.

A fourth traffic light concept was originally introduced in 2020.

A fourth traffic light concept was originally introduced in 2020. (

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Nowhere is ready to embrace the concept and put it into motion. However, researchers like Hijbabi certainly have high hopes that it will become part of our norm in the future.

Want to see Amazon’s driverless car in action? Visit my website and explore Amazon’s self-driving carBy clicking on the magnifying glass at the top of my website.

How would you feel about adding a fourth stoplight to roadways? We want to hear from you.

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