Can Insects Save Us From Traffic?

Insect Traffic

Thanks to our beloved insects, we might spend less time in cars waiting for the green traffic light. All the daily jams which are slowing up traffic on the crossroads of big cities might be regulated thanks to the method used by societies of ants, termites or bees who are self-organized traffic experts.

Traffic Instinct

Scientists discovered that all these communities are capable of perfect coordination of large number of specimens. Professors from Carnegie Mellon university, found that ants are regulating mass movements within their communities with their own instinct. When the paths of two columns of ants are intersected, a smaller group will always give way to the bigger one. Professors who did the research, came up with an idea that this method could be applicable to everyday (human) traffic, especially when it comes to crossroad jams. In 2009 he started developing the system entitled Virtual Traffic Lights. Basically, this system is designed so that it can determine which one of two groups of vehicles approaching the crossroad is bigger, so that it can ride through first. According to the claim of the makers of this system, not only that the green-light-waiting-time would be shorter for about 40 – 60 percent, but the system would also contribute to decreased emission of exhaust gases. Similar methods are also being developed by universities in Dresden, Germany and Zürich, Switzerland only their systems enables communication among traffic lights and approaching vehicles, also with fighting against traffic jams in mind.

Other Side

At the same time, Austrian company IPTE Schalk presented the latest version of a system which prevents a car from hitting an animal that wandered off on the road. This system is a cheap and effective way of reducing road incidents of this kind. Photo-sensitive plates are installed on safety fences by the road, and they are activated automatically with vehicle’s headlights. These plates are transmitting a synthetic sound which is imitating a cry of a hurt animal. Apart from that, these plates are also reflecting a ray of light which resembles a reflection of predators eyes. With these effects, an animal is meant to be confused and stopped before it goes on the road, giving time to the vehicle to safely drive by. After being tested in Europe and USA, and installing of approximately 10. 000 of these units, the number of road kills was reduced 70% which confirms the systems functionality.

Fauna might teach us how to handle traffic better, but before that, we should teach how to respect it in the way that it deserves.

Image Credit: Greg Wass (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7419224892/)

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Eliah is a blogger for Stamford Pest Control company. He is trying to be a responsible environmentalist, and he is combining his love for nature with his writing hoby.