Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Clear Cruising Ahead?

PostedJuly 10, 2004

Download File (mp3)

Traffic jams can begin with the simplest things.  A driver's split-second hesitation.  A brake pressed a bit too hard.  That's often all it takes to start a chain-reaction which grinds your trip to a halt.  Craig Davis, a University of Michigan physicist, says gridlock might be cleared up by a technology already engineered into many cars.  Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar or laser ranging devices to automatically maintain your distance from the car ahead.  Davis details computer simulations in the journal Physical Review E that show, if just one-in-five drivers use it, typical highway back-ups could be eliminated.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.