October 16, 2014 6:36 pm
Updated: October 16, 2014 6:42 pm

The scientific solutions for Toronto’s traffic congestion

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TORONTO – The lines are starting to blur between what science fiction and actual technology that could be used to solve gridlock in Toronto.

Researchers at the University of Toronto are leading the way with models to control transportation systems and talk of artificial intelligence controlling our cars.

“We firmly believe that we could considerably reduce delay,” the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute’s (UTTRI) director Eric Miller said.

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“We’re trying to solve transportation problems, which we have many of.”

Autonomous vehicles are already taking to city streets, with Google’s self-driving car leading the way.

Miller suggests that those same vehicles will not only be figuring things out for themselves but sending information elsewhere to create an interactive network.

“I think the connection,” Miller said. “The cars talking to each other, is at least as important as the antonymous nature of the car as a robot that’s driving itself.”

Smart traffic signals are also on the verge of becoming a reality as well. Those lights will learn and dynamically adjust to traffic on their own.

Bill Nye the Science Guy recently made an appearance on Global’s The Morning Show in Toronto.

“How do you straighten the traffic out? There’s organization,” Bill Nye said. “You make a plan. How do you do that? Science!”

Toronto’s 5-year congestion management plan suggests signal timing will be improved at major intersections throughout the city up to 25 per cent by 2018.

“What we’re trying to do is time the signals,” the city’s director for Transportation Services Myles Currie said. “As you’re driving at a safe and reasonable speed, you won’t run into the red lights in particular zones.”

The Traffic Operations Centre was recently upgraded to include a wall of screens that can monitor up to 200 roadside cameras.

More variable message signs will be installed on arterial roads in addition to the ones on major expressways like the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

More real-time traffic data is being provided through Twitter feeds dedicated to major routes in Toronto as well.

GPS technology has given drivers the chance to map out routes in advance for more than a decade. Today, apps like Waze (recently purchased by Google) have created a social network with millions of users around the world.

Drivers can let others know what traffic flow is like, where there’s construction or even police presence all hands-free through voice command.

“There’s lots of science, there’s lots of tech, lots of math to describe these things,” Eric Miller said. “But at the end of the day, it’s people.”

 

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