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New DOE Lab Aims to Save Lives, Cut Congestion

By NAM News Room

A new Energy Department lab is helping automakers build cars capable of saving emissions, energy, time and lives, according to E&E News’ ENERGYWIRE (subscription).

The details: “The DOE office is called the Infrastructure Perception and Control Laboratory (IPC). Part of its mission is intended to help cities cope with rising numbers of bikers and pedestrians at busy intersections and to take advantage of smarter cars, technology-equipped traffic lights and mobile phones.”

  • IPC is a joint project of the DOE and Colorado Springs, Colorado, which decided to spearhead these projects in other cities after discovering the “dilemma zone”—those nanoseconds at an intersection before a light turns red when a driver must either speed up to beat it or slam on the brakes.

​​​​​​​The problem: “[O]lder radar systems didn’t show what was actually happening at the intersection—so the city started looking for ways to improve it. The move came as more walkers and bikers were passing through busy intersections, at which about 21 percent of traffic accidents occur nationally.”

  • DOE is seeking ways to reduce energy use and improve traffic controls.

The solution: Colorado Springs has received a Transportation Department grant “to install and test radar and laser-equipped light detection and ranging equipment at three intersections” and has erected a mock intersection in a parking lot. Data from the setup is being collected and analyzed.

Why it’s important: “It comes as cars are gradually becoming smarter. … ‘Automated vehicles are critical elements in our transition to a zero-emission transportation future,’” Stanley Young, head of the IPC, told the publication.

  • And “[e]xperts at the new lab … see a future where more automated electric cars may be able to reduce congestion by parking themselves at busy airports and elsewhere.”
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