If leaves can have a social network, why not cars? And, what if this network could reduce the amount of fuel your car burns by 20%? That’s what researchers at MIT and Princeton found when a smartphones mounted on car dashboards were used to form a network that collected information about traffic lights and advised drivers to slow down to avoid waiting at red lights.
SignalGuru: Leveraging Mobile Phones for Collaborative Traffic (PDF – research paper presented at the ACM’s MobiSys conference)
Idling at a red light and then accelerating uses more fuel than simply reducing and then increasing the speed of a mostly constantly moving car. You may have read about “hypermilers” who use this coasting technique without a network of smartphones to get maximum gas mileage.
Wired: June 2008 – Hypermilers Push the Limits of Fuel Efficiency
Of course, like all crowdsourced systems, SignalGuru needs enough people using the service to gather enough data to provide traffic light predictions.
Via MIT News: Increasing fuel efficiency with a smartphone