TRAFFIC SIGNS: Virginia Tech project bringing traffic signage inside

In-car system being tested would tell drivers to stop or yield based on current traffic

August 06, 2014

Researchers at Virginia Tech recently completed a 17-week test of new connected-vehicle technology that would determine if drivers should stop or yield at an intersection based on current traffic levels. Though still in the proof-of-concept stage, the technology could eventually reduce the need for roadside ‘STOP’ and ‘YIELD’ signage.

As described by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the technology centers around a GPS-style display on the dashboard. As the vehicle approaches an intersection, the display flashes either a ‘STOP’ or ‘YIELD’ image if other vehicles are detected on-approach. If no other vehicles are detected, the driver will be able to proceed without stopping or yielding.

The proof-of-concept adaptive study was conducted on the Virginia Smart Road, a private research test-bed owned and operated by the Virginia DOT. VTTI researchers chose several dozen participants between ages 18 and 25 and over 50, providing vehicles pre-equipped with the new system; other vehicles were driven by VTTI staff. Participants’ reactions were filmed through in-vehicle cameras, monitoring line-of-sight and upper-body position among other factors. VTTI also created scenarios where the technology was allowed to fail, allowing them to gauge driver decision-making.

According to researchers, the hope is to eliminate the need for vehicles to make unnecessary stops, which is ultimately a waste of fuel.

Presently, research is focused on non-signalized intersections. No mention has been made of eventually including signalized intersections in the study.