Prof. Ozan Tonguz featured on CNN for virtual traffic light research


January 12, 2015

From major intersections to back roads, traffic lights are everywhere. Drivers are ingrained to pay attention to the green, yellow, and dreaded red lights as they approach an intersection. But what if cars could talk to each other, and manage traffic control without infrastructure based traffic lights? ECE professor Ozan Tonguz’s research on virtual traffic lights is doing just that. 

Through connected vehicle technology, virtual traffic lights will appear on the driver’s windshield as they approach an intersection. “When the driver is looking through the windshield, they’ll see that going straight is a green light, and turning right is a red light,” Tonguz explains. “It’s a seamless process, the driver does not get involved in this decision making.”  The virtual traffic light will turn off once the driver proceeds through the intersection. A CMU start-up known as Virtual Traffic Lights, LLC is working on commercializing this patented technology for large-scale deployment in major cities around the world.

Virtual traffic lights will do more than lower commuter’s stress levels. They’ll mitigate traffic congestion, reduce commute times, decrease the carbon footprint of vehicles, and lead to a greener environment. It is estimated that this technology could reduce urban commute time by 40%. “We are giving additional life to people,” says Tonguz. “Life that is wasted on the road.”

View the full CNN International segment here.

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Ozan Tonguz