End of traffic jams?: Honda to test congestion minimizing technology

Honda says it has developed a new technology that could one day rid the world's roads of traffic jams. The Japanese automaker will begin real world testing of the technology next month.

Developed in conjunction with the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, Honda says the technology has the ability to "detect the potential for traffic congestion and determine whether the driving pattern of the vehicle is likely to create traffic jams."

Honda will conduct the first public road tests of the technology next month in Italy - followed by similar tests in Indonesia this July - but the traffic jam-reducing tech has already shown promise in test simulations. Honda says the system has increased the average traffic jam speed by 23 percent and improved fuel economy of vehicles caught in the jam by eight percent.

The system works by detecting a driver's acceleration and deceleration patterns and determining if those actions are likely to result in traffic congestion. The system then displays appropriate information to the driver via a color-coded gauge to encourage smooth driving. Honda says this information helps to prevent further sudden acceleration and deceleration of trailing vehicles, which ultimately helps the flow of traffic.

Honda recognizes that the human element of its systems could be a sticking point, so the automaker is also testing a system that links vehicles via a cloud-based system. In addition to relaying traffic conditions between vehicles, the automated system also uses Adaptive Cruise Control to keep a constant distance between vehicles. Honda also notes that the cloud-based system increases average fuel economy by another four percent.

Honda has yet to announce when its congestion minimizing technology will be available on a road-going vehicle, but the time is certainly coming.