We’ve all done it.
Sat at the traffic lights, watching someone in front crawl through a green light and…. NO! Before you can pretend to be Lewis Hamilton, you’re more Lance Stroll as a red light appears and you’re stuck in neutral again.
Traffic lights are everywhere these days. Junctions, slip roads, even roundabouts.
Indeed, it is estimated that the average driver spends 32 hours a year in traffic jams. And traffic congestion will cost governments across the world almost $300bn by the year 2030. That’s a lot of sweaty grips of the steering wheel.
Allow me to explain.
The fact that AR can overlay virtual information onto a real-world view is what makes it so appealing for traffic management.
Imagine being able to see which lane is most appropriate for the best route through a junction? Or even the tell you distance to the car ahead.
What if you were given up-to-date information about delays ahead, with suggestions for a suitable speed limits and routes?
I know what you’re thinking: my phone or GPS does all this and all I have to do is glance at the screen on my dashboard.
True. That’s all you have to do. But by looking away from the road at 60mph for just ten seconds, you’re effectively driving with your eyes shut for around 800ft.
That’s over 250 metres.
So if Augmented Reality can help to smooth your way through traffic while keeping your eyes on the road, it’s got to be a win-win.
Making sure heads-up displays don’t distract from the view of the road is challenge of course, but not an insurmountable one.
And it goes further than that. The nature of AR means ‘smart’ windscreens can also feed information back to traffic management systems, further helping to calm frayed tempers.
Part of this is that you’ll be ‘on the grid’ and with smart windscreens in operation, there’ll be no place to hide for those who jump the lights, for example. Some might complain about being plugged into the all-seeing eye, but since when was catching dangerous drivers a bad thing?
Then there’s the potential for Police officers to get information on a vehicle or driver, simply by looking at a vehicle. A bit like wearable ANPR, helping to weed out dangerous cars and even dangerous drivers.
Even traffic wardens could be get a leg up – technology firm IPS Group wants to use AR to make parking operations easier.
The company is hoping to use AR-enabled devices to show enhanced images that allow enforcement officers to see at a glance the parking situation on a given city block.
Expired tickets, broken machines, illegally parked cars. Not fun, but essential.
The key here, of course, is safety. Not making your journey faster, or even necessarily more efficient. Not even self-driving cars, whatever they are.
You may still get stuck in neutral, but at least you’ll be safer.