This video has been dropping jaws all over the tech blogosphere. It’s a model of what a (freaking huge!) intersection would look like if traffic signals and human driver decisions were eliminated in favor of total computer control: individual computers controlling the cars, which are driverless, and an “intersection manager” computer controlling all of the input from those cars as they approach and move through the intersection. The idea is to maximize traffic flow, and as you can see, these cars zip past one another with inches to spare.
Frankly I think it’s a good thing the cars will be driverless, because most of the would-be drivers will probably expire of cardiac arrest while traversing that intersection. (And heaven help any cyclists or pedestrians!)
Yesterday’s bantering about OS X vs. Windows vs. Ubuntu aside, no operating system is perfect and no software is perfect, and that’s not even considering things like power outages or wireless interruptions. This system had better have fifty redundancies and backups!
And now, just to give you a sample of that future heart attack, here is a video of pretty much the same traffic management system for real — but for human-driven traffic, in India. (Watch the white car that temporarily backs up traffic, and then watch the pedestrian it passes.)