Rush hour traffic isn’t fun for anyone and the frustration is further exacerbated when you have to come to a complete stop for no reason in particular. This is due to what is called the “accordion effect” and Honda has developed technology that could make it a thing of the past.
Look at the diagram below. If one car has to brake suddenly for whatever reason, the car behind it has to slow down to prevent a fender-bender. As a result of the second car slowing down, the car behind that has to slow down more. And the car behind that has to slow down even more, creating a “backward travelling wave” of slower and slower traffic. And that’s how you get a traffic jam and that’s how, somewhere down that wave, cars may have to stop altogether.
What Honda has done is developed technology that will detect the driving patterns of a vehicle that may lead to this kind of congestion. The system monitors acceleration and deceleration patterns, offering suggestions on how to minimize the accordion effect. In short, it’s about minimizing the need to quickly accelerate and quickly brake, instead driving as smoothly as possible.
This is all well and good, but there’s at least one major speedbump: other drivers. When you use the “congestion minimizer system” and leave extra distance from the vehicle in front of you, more likely than not a car from the other lane is going to seize the opportunity to fill that gap with the conviction that your lane is now the faster one. The way you get around this is if every car on the road uses this and it’s used in conjunction with Adaptive Cruise Control that taps into cloud servers, viewing and predicting the traffic patterns ahead.
In any case, the first Honda public road tests of the system are being planned for Italy in May and then Indonesia in July.