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caravans revisited

Saturday,  02/18/06  08:26 AM

A long time ago I posted an article about caravans; my idea for making traffic move more smoothly by using technology to keep your car as close to the car in front of you as possible.  At the time, nearly three years ago, this seemed like a future.  But now the future is here! 

Mercedes' 2007 S-class sedan has something they call Distronic Plus, a radar cruise control which automatically maintains a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you.  [ via Engadget ]  The name needs work, but this feature is exactly what I wanted!  { Click through to the autospies article to see a video of the feature in action. }  It not only maintains distance by adjusting your accelerator, but even brakes, so it can be used in stop-and-go traffic.

In my article I suggested that this feature was the best way to speed traffic on congested freeways, because the delay in human reactions was one of the factors which causes traffic to slow down.  If "everyone" had this feature, the distance between cars in traffic would be minimized, and traffic flow would be much faster.  Well of course it will be some time before everyone has a Mercedes S-class sedan (!), but if this feature is on a high-end car today, how long before it is standard?  Five years?  Ten?  You know it will happen, and when it does, it will be good.

{ For more discussion on this, please see also my post on the caravan fallacy. }

{ Later: caravans, cont. }

Definitely worth a test drive, stay tuned!