A consortium of researchers, working with leading automakers, has tested an AI-powered cruise control system designed to increase fuel savings and ease traffic using 100 specially equipped Nissan Rogue vehicles. The CIRCLES Consortium, consisting of Vanderbilt University, UC Berkeley, Temple University and Rutgers University-Camden, in coordination with Nissan North America and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, recently concluded a five-day open-track experiment on a stretch of I-24 near downtown Nashville—the largest study of its kind in the world.
The experiment — which ran from Nov. 14 through Nov. 18 on a sensor-filled portion of Interstate 24 — is based on the results from an earlier, closed-track study where a single smart vehicle smoothed human-caused traffic congestion, leading to significant fuel savings. A single AI-equipped vehicle, say the researchers, could influence the speed and driving behavior of up to 20 surrounding cars, causing a kind of positive ripple effect in day-to-day traffic.
“On November 16 alone, the system recorded a total of 143,010 miles driven and 3,780 hours of driving,” say the researchers. “The I-24 MOTION system, combined with vehicle energy models developed in the CIRCLES project, provided an estimation of the fuel consumption of the whole traffic flow during those hours. The concept we are hoping to demonstrate is that by leveraging this new traffic system to collect data and estimate traffic and applying artificial intelligence technology to existing cruise control systems, we can ease traffic jams and improve fuel economy.”
The test was conducted on the recently opened I-24 MOTION testbed, the only real-world automotive testing environment of its kind in the world. Stretching for four miles just southeast of downtown Nashville, the smart highway is equipped with 300 4K digital sensors capable of logging 260,000,000 vehicle-miles of data per year.
The CIRCLES Consortium says it will spend the next several months analyzing data collected on the AI-equipped vehicles and their impact on the flow of traffic over the duration of the experiment.