Communicating cars can ease traffic worries

Communication is an important part of effective travel, and GPS, smartphone apps or a friendly stranger on the roadways are common methods of deciding the best route to take. Using these methods, drivers frequently try to minimize traffic delays, work around heavy congestion and arrive at their destination expediently. However, there is often little concern for the most optimal route for the group as a whole. Each driver usually seeks to minimize their own travel times without concern for others.

Robson De Grande, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Thiago Gomides, a master’s student from the Federal University of São João del-Rei in Brazil, are seeking to change this trend by allowing the cars themselves to make informed decisions as a connected network.

To conduct the research at hand, Gomides took part in a Global Affairs Canada Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship. After settling in at Brock, he said he was impressed with the campus and the way it connects with students.

“I was greeted with experienced professors and a vibrant campus life easily accessible to newcomers,” said Gomides.

The research the pair is conducting uses travel map simulations from cities like New York City and Paris, which have varying degrees of complexity for smooth travel. Then, they use a process called wave protocol to create a localized network between cars in close proximity to each other that analyzes a variety of contributing factors and swiftly maps out the best way for all of the cars in the network to move through traffic.

Gomides’ research aims to avoid the interruptions that occur when conventional navigation programs guide numerous vehicles towards the ‘best’ route and cause delays on a previously clear roadway. Similar delays can also occur if transmission towers in the area are not working correctly, which would prevent the proper communication of traffic data.

To avoid these problematic situations, Gomides’ network does not rely on cell towers or the Internet to function. Instead, it uses Onboard Unity, where each car holds and shares its own data with other cars to create dynamic and proximity-based communication. Under the new network, the net result is less fuel burned, lower emissions, less tardiness at work and faster reaction time for accident mitigation.

Dean Ejaz Ahmed of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science enjoys seeing international collaborations like the project from Gomides and De Grande.

“Collaborations produce strong results which are often greater than the sum of their parts,” he said.

The entire project of cars communicating is similar to the ELAP program itself, and the Faculty of Mathematics and Science looks forward to seeing the exciting research more teams can produce in the future.

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