The Death of the Traffic Light

Daniel Fraga
April 14th 2016

MIT researchers have developed a system of traffic control that will make traffic lights obsolete. In this conceptual project, called Light Traffic, the connectivity between cars would allow them to simply blast through intersections without any risk of hitting other vehicles.

Look at how it would work in the video below:

By providing each car with a sensor to not crash into each other, and by creating an overall management system - which gives every car a "slot" in which they can safely cross the busy junction - something very interesting is accomplished: an autonomous regulation of traffic and motorized transportation.

This is at once useful and environment-friendly, as it reduces the time that cars waste completely static at an intersection, waiting for the lights to turn green. It is also beautiful, who would have thought that cars could perform such a magnificent ballet, constantly flirting with failure and tragedy? It feels like a crash could happen any moment, but it just never does. Like New York City (in the words of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, in "Delirious New York"), Light Traffic is also “an accumulation of possible disasters that never happen”. One of the most interesting aspects of this video - and hopefully, of the actual application of the technology - is how its climax is in reality an anti-climax. The seamless weaving of car trajectories onto each other is a celebration of how disasters are averted every 2 seconds. This dance is part of the brilliance of this innovation.

And such a dance also reminds us of the hiveminds of bees, wasps, or other social insects. Biology and evolution have primed these life-forms, for thousands of years, to develop a sort of collective intelligence, in which the parts of the whole work seamlessly together, towards the perfect functioning of the whole; almost as if it they were all commanded by one single mind, the so-called "hivemind". Well, lo and behold: now, cars are one step closer to become the other class of "bees" in the coming technological hivemind, where all is connected. It's like the road and the cars have a mind of their own, along with our smartphones and the different technologies we incorporate into our daily lives in a few years. The connected intellicence of all objects is a possibility that is looming closer and closer.

The autonomy of these cars is uncanny, because it is almost natural, but not quite so. It's something almost familiar, because they recall the movements of bees or ants. But on the other hand, they are definitely not bees and ants; they are the literal manifestation of the next natures in which we live, more and more. What do you think?

Source: Dezeen

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