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Can Honda prevent traffic jams?

Traffic on the Long Island Expressway near Melville.

Traffic on the Long Island Expressway near Melville. (Sept. 17, 2010) (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

Honda is developing technology to predict and prevent roadway congestion so that traffic jams become a thing of the past.

The automaker partnered with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo to develop a system based on acceleration and deceleration behaviors in drivers, and Honda hopes to use the results to detect patterns that lead to traffic jams. Intense acceleration and braking inputs are one of the root causes of traffic congestion, and they create a domino effect, according to Honda. The pattern of one vehicle influences the pattern of neighboring vehicles, which can then initiate traffic.

If the system detects that a driver's behavior may cause a traffic jam, it alerts the driver via a color-coded display screen. Activating an adaptive cruise control system that monitors and maintains distance between vehicles also helps.

"The test results demonstrated that the system helped increase the average speed by approximately 23 percent and improved fuel efficiency by approximately 8 percent of trailing vehicles," Honda said in a statement.

The next step is to try the system on public roads. The automaker plans to conduct real-world tests of the technology in Italy and Indonesia next month.

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