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Researchers Test AI-Equipped Cars to Ease Traffic Jams, Save Fuel


November 28, 2022

A consortium of researchers from several universities, Nissan North America and the Tennessee Department of Transportation have completed a five-day, open-track experiment that aims to increase fuel savings and ease traffic through the use of artificial intelligence. The group said a single AI-equipped vehicle influenced the speed and driving behavior of up to 20 surrounding cars, causing a positive ripple effect to help smooth human-caused congestion.

The CIRCLES Consortium includes researchers from Vanderbilt University, UC Berkeley, Temple University and Rutgers University-Camden, along with Nissan and the Tennessee DOT. Using 100 specially equipped Nissan Rogue vehicles, the experiment ran from Nov. 14-18 on a sensor-filled portion of U.S. Interstate 24. Stretching four miles southeast of downtown Nashville, the I-24 MOTION smart highway is equipped with 300 4K digital sensors that can log up to 260 million vehicle miles of data per year. 

“The concept we are hoping to demonstrate is that by leveraging this new traffic system to collect data and estimate traffic and applying artificial intelligence technology to existing cruise control systems, we can ease traffic jams and improve fuel economy,” the group said in a statement. 

“The I-24 MOTION project is a first-of-its-kind testbed, where we’ll be able to study in real-time the impact connected and autonomous vehicles have on traffic in an open road setting,” said Meredith Cebelak, adjunct instructor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt. “The permanent infrastructure has been designed and installed, meaning the testbed will always be ‘on’ and available to researchers. By unlocking a new understanding of how these vehicles influence traffic, vehicle, infrastructure, and traffic management strategies design can be optimized to reduce traffic concerns in the future to improve safety, air quality and fuel efficiency.” 

For more information on the I-24 MOTION testbed, visit its website here.

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