A Future without Stoplights

A team from MIT has proposed a system for removing stoplights from intersections. By using wireless connectivity between cars, intersections can advise drivers — human or computer — to adjust their speed an enter the intersection at exactly the right time.

This seems like an example of why path-dependence matters and how human drivers and computer drivers might need or at least want different infrastructure.

It would be awesome for computerized drivers, or at least human drivers in networked cars, to be able to travel through intersections without stoplights. But there are hundreds of millions of non-networked vehicles in the world, and they’ll be with us for a long time.

So the real challenge isn’t even building intersections that work without streetlights. It’s building intersections that work with both networked and non-networked cars.