Exploring the Intersections of Automotive Design and Climate Change

Each time a vehicle stops at a signalized intersection, it wastes fuel and emits greenhouse gases; to help drivers avoid unnecessary stops and keep their journeys moving efficiently, researchers at MIT have developed an algorithm which aims to avoid this scenario and keep trips flowing smoothly.

The TBT Committee analyzes technical regulations related to environmental and energy-related technologies to ensure they do not create unneeded barriers for international trade, while encouraging harmonization of such standards.

Intersection Analysis

Intersections have gained great attention for their effects on traffic flow, vehicle safety and pedestrian movement. To maximize traffic performance at intersections and evaluate design options effectively, monitoring and analysis are essential in improving their performance.

Due to the complexity of turning movement count (TMC), gathering necessary data for intersection-based traffic measurement and simulation can be challenging. Furthermore, traditional methods of including TMC data into simulation software often result in inaccurate traffic measurements.

This research seeks to develop an approach that allows traffic engineers to extract relevant traffic measurements from actual traffic data and apply them more accurately and precisely in simulation software to achieve more precise intersection-based traffic measurements and management. A vision-based tracking system was utilized for providing traffic measurement coefficients at three intersections in Las Vegas for one hour of analysis; two methods of incorporating TMC measurements into Simulation of Urban MObility (SUMO) are then tested against one another to see which one yields more accurate simulation measurements of real world traffic flow patterns.

SUMO can be used to determine route paths and create simulation files at each intersection, while its frame-based resolution determines route paths more precisely than using more detailed models of individual intersections. After comparing both approaches’ results, edge 1i at INT3 stands out with its high queue length estimate indicating a need to rework traffic signals at INT1 and INT2 according to real critical turning movements to reduce vehicles’ waiting time.

Traffic Safety Technologies

Human error is the main contributor to car accidents, so auto manufacturers are working hard to equip vehicles with various safety technologies that will make drivers feel more at ease and reduce accidents annually. Some technologies already available on the market exist while others still need development. Many of these innovations aim to make drivers feel safer while simultaneously decreasing accident numbers.

Back-up cameras have become a ubiquitous technology that is found in most new vehicles to help prevent collisions with cyclists or pedestrians. Forward Collision Warning systems (FCWs), another technology often installed into new cars by manufacturers to increase driver safety, are another means by which car manufacturers seek to increase it; FCS or Forward Collision Warning systems monitor traffic around a vehicle and alert drivers if an accident may be imminent.

Another emerging technology is road cameras, which can detect distracted driving or poor weather conditions that could contribute to an accident. These cameras record scenes and send the information directly to a smartphone app which will alert drivers of imminent danger. This technology could prove especially valuable in areas without permanent traffic cameras in place.

Self-driving vehicles have also become an area of research and development within the automotive industry, though they may still be some time off from being ready for public use. Yet this technology could help reduce car accidents each year.

Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have made strides into the market over recent years due to an expanded selection of options now available to them. Electric cars tend to be much cleaner than their gasoline-fueled counterparts in most conditions and their carbon footprint is smaller when accounting for all phases of fuel generation and electricity generation.

However, an EV’s overall emissions depend on various factors, including its type and size of battery pack, electricity grid mix composition, driving patterns and weather. A recent study by ifo concluded that Tesla Model 3 produced between 90% to 125% less CO2 over its lifespan compared with Mercedes C 220s; these differences shouldn’t come as a shock since emissions data is typically derived using test cycle fuel economy values rather than real world performance values.

At their ideal, electric vehicles should be charged using renewable energy sources that have low CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, however, most EV owners will at some point in their lives need to charge their cars with fossil-fueled electricity – something which may result in significant emissions if used frequently.

Still, widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) can dramatically decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in dense cities and highway-adjacent communities where tailpipe emissions disproportionately affect quality of life. ICF research indicates that when people hear positive radio stories about EVs they become increasingly convinced of their reliability, sustainability, practicality and affordability.

Mobility Action Plans

Cities and regions committed to decreasing reliance on private cars and limiting emissions create mobility action plans to expand travel choices for all. These plans often incorporate on-demand and shared mobility services such as carsharing, bikeshare, ridesourcing, autonomous vehicles, public transit expansions as well as policies designed to foster their development and use.

City of Boston, for instance, is striving to develop efficient transportation networks that foster economic opportunity. To assist their efforts, they have begun creating an Emerging Mobility Action Plan which assesses new transportation services and technologies to ensure they are operated equitably while supporting mode shift goals and climate action plan objectives.

Electric vehicles (EVs) can help alleviate traffic congestion and air pollution, but in order for this strategy to make significant headway toward our climate goals it must also shift consumer demand for them. As part of their solution several countries have increased the availability of EV models while others provide incentives such as tax credits or purchase rebates to promote EV adoption.

As a result of these efforts, the 2020s should mark an acceleration in mass adoption of electric vehicles. To effectively offset pandemic impacts and achieve climate goals, however, mass market maturity for EVs must include wide model offerings, reduced upfront cost parity with internal combustion engines, seamless integrated mobility technologies and comprehensive infrastructure support services.

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