Vehicle Based Technological Solutions to Highway Traffic Congestion

Rajesh Rajamani

Department of Mechanical Engineering

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 55455



Traffic congestion in the country’s major metropolitan areas continues to grow every year.  Annual increases in traffic demand continue to outpace increase in highway capacity making it unlikely that roadway expansion can provide a solution to highway congestion.  This talk looks at how advances in vehicle-based technologies could provide an evolutionary solution to the problem.  Adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems are being developed by many automotive manufacturers and are likely to become standard automotive equipment in the future.  The first part of this talk describes how the development of intelligent algorithms on ACC vehicles can lead to an increase in highway capacity while at the same time ensuring safe highway travel.  Next, the talk describes how the enhancement of ACC systems with co-operative vehicle-highway infrastructure can lead to further dramatic increases in highway capacity.  The final part of the talk discusses the development of a new class of narrow vehicles that provide a completely different approach towards addressing the traffic congestion issue.  A prototype narrow vehicle with automatic tilt control has been developed at the University of Minnesota.  Results will be presented from a research project focused on making this narrow vehicle as safe, comfortable and easy to drive as a regular passenger sedan.