[ExI] Fwd: Cars and Ants

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Thu May 21 02:18:33 UTC 2009

On Wed, May 20, 2009 at 9:28 PM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:
> But I like my second idea better, which relates to ants. I'm thinking
> of a pheromone trail. Could we get cars to leave a weak chemical trail
> as they drive around? If most of the cars did this, you'd end up with
> a nice aggregate trail in every lane of every road, strongest in the
> average path, with a nice falling gradient as you move away from the
> center. So it should be quite useful to follow it.

Have you considered using gps enhanced with cell-tower triangulation?
That would cover most of the already developed infrastructure in metro
areas.  If we still aren't sure about the accuracy of road maps, we
could allow the cars to train on the roads while under human control.
This would free us from the daily commute once we've driven to work
once or twice.  If the cars on the road were 802.11n+ ad-hoc network
routers, we would be able to query conditions ahead as far as there is
traffic density to carry the network.  This would also allow each node
in the network (car) to alert position information to nearest
neighbors to not only increase collision avoidance but also inform
intention for the sake of changing lanes or entering/exiting the
roadway.  (ex: I need to exit right soon, but I'm in the leftmost
lane.  With intention broadcast, neighboring cars can momentarily open
a path)
  The open relay of car-to-car data is very similar to your ant
analogy, but uses RF rather than chemical signals.  Considering the
seemingly ever-present stream of cars at nearly every bend in the
roads that I drive, I wouldn't need greater persistence than real-time
(or point-in-time) traffic data.  Once the cars are equipped with
sufficient technology, then we can discuss enhancing hundreds of
thousands of miles of roads.  An "old car" is 10+ years old.  The
average age of highway is usually several times that of the cars on
it.  An entire generation of cars will be replaced before a typical
road is refurbished.

I too have thought about this a great deal.  :)

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