Upcoming Traffic Light Predictor Application Turns the Conversation Towards Critical Mass

SignalGuru application in action 

Ever wish you could magically turn traffic lights green whenever you approach? Well now you can, sort of. SignalGuru is an new application for smart phones that fundamentally alters the relationship between drivers and traffic lights, and in so doing reduces stop-and-go traffic, fuel consumption, and traffic jams.

Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory (GLOSA), the technology behind SignalGuru, is an onboard computational system that alerts drivers to the schedule of traffic signals ahead.  Drivers can then adjust their speed in order to avoid having to stop at upcoming intersections. In the future, Signal Guru could also be augmented to include rerouting software that would instruct drivers to duck down a side street to avoid a traffic jam, or tell users where to find parking. 

But GLOSA cannot work individually; its most effective when connected to other GLOSA devices.  Sound familiar? Instead of using transportation information to help passengers share rides, SignalGuru uses the network effect to create a virtual traffic light map of an area: ie to help cars share roads.

And it appears to be working. Margaret Martonosi and Emmanouil Koukoumidis of Princeton University, and Li-Shiuan Peh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology tested the app on drivers in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Singapore. It proved to be, respectively, 98.2% and 96.3% accurate at predicting traffic lights and fuel consumption was reduced by an average 20%.

Looking forward to the day when SignalGuru will be able to pull info from the Weeels API: drivers could beat traffic lights by slowing down to pick up rideshare passengers — killing two inefficient behaviors with one mobile stone, I mean phone.

Link to academic paper about SignalGuru: http://bit.ly/osWVPV