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Cars as Traffic Sensors

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Researchers working on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's CarTel project are studying how cars could be used as ubiquitous mobile sensors.

CarTel project researchers, led by MIT professors Hari Balakrishnan and Sam Madden, developed an algorithm that optimizes the dissemination of data through a network of cars with wireless connections. The researchers collected four years' worth of data about the driving patterns of Boston-area taxicabs equipped with global positioning systems. An effective information-dissemination system will ensure that two cars passing each other in opposite directions will exchange high-priority data, while also enabling two cars sitting at the same traffic light to exchange lower-priority data.

Disseminating data through networks of cars will be especially useful in urban areas, says Ford's T.J. Giuli. With a network of wirelessly connected vehicles, "as the density of mobile-networking consumers increases, the bandwidth also increases," Giuli says.

From MIT News
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