EVER IMAGINED driving a car which would communicate with other cars to prevent a collision? Very soon, such talking cars will be seen running on the roads, much to the relief of the drivers. Scientists have developed a set of algorithms that will allow future robotic cars to talk with each other to help avoid accidents.
Under the guidance and supervision of Indian-origin scientists, Dr Bhibhya Sharma and Dr Utesh Chand, an international team in the University of South Pacific, have developed mathematical equations which would instruct robotic cars on how to drive and change lanes safely. The series of such mathematical equations would instruct the future robotic cars on how to merge lanes, thus bringing down the accident rate and easing traffic congestions.

Dr Sharma said that flocking was a biologically-inspired technique and strategy commonly used in robotics. The advantages of flocking make robots work together and achieve what would normally take an individual far longer.

According to the scientists, each robotic car will be controlled by a centralised brain which will be guided by a series of algorithms which will enable the brains to talk with each other and instruct the cars to merge lanes and altogether move together in a formation that avoids collisions.

Using computer simulation, the team demonstrated the technique and is currently trying it out in two-wheeled robots. Dr Chand said that the cars would have targets they move towards. Whenever the cars finds itself in a merging situation, one car would take the lead position and the rest would follow. The team has noted down equations for attraction towards a target, enabling the cars to stay in the lane and avoid crashing into each other. According to the team the only challenge would be to allow the robot to automatically plan how to avoid collision with the side of the roads and cars moving close by.

The scientists have put forward and presented their findings at the 1st Rim Mathematical Association (PRIMA) conference that was held in Sydney.