Smarter Than You Think – Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic

From NY Times Smarter Than You Think – Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic : “”

Google has adopted the Stanford and Carnegie Mellon autonomous car programs it seems. Glad there is some real money behind this stuff in the US, given the financial status of US carmakers.
Also see Google blogs: What we’re driving at
and TechCruch: World-Changing Awesome Aside, How Will The Self-Driving Google Car Make Money?

85 vehicles and pedestrians in 3:11

This movie was taken by me, with my iPhone, on the way home from work on August 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm. The five-way stop controlled intersection (Franklin Ave/ East River Road / 27th Ave) seems to have a maximum throughput just over 1600 vehicles per hour. Most of the movements are saturated during the peak. This intersection has been blogged about before.

The downside for a stop controlled intersection is that the allocation of time across legs is “unfair”, i.e. drivers are supposed to take turns (yield to the right). Thus a leg which is just saturated will get just as much access to the critical points of the intersection as a leg that is supersaturated, resulting in much higher delays on the supersaturated movements. I did not measure delay, but it is longer on this day for travelers moving WB on Franklin Ave.

There are several other points to note.

(1) Drivers do not all know the “yield to the right” rule.

(2) This results in “negotiations” between drivers about who should go. Less aggressive drivers clearly lose, but eventually go.

(3) This generally increases throughput compared to obeying rules (do not start until the intersection is cleared is violated, to the benefit of throughput).

(4) The intersection is confusing but safe. Any crashes during peak times would be very low speed.

(5) It is more confusing because of the construction.

(6) The intersection was configured with operating signals in September 2010.