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Self-Organizing Traffic at a Malfunctioning Intersection

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sugata Mitra


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Traffic signals and traffic flow models have been studied extensively in the past and have provided valuable insights on the design of signalling systems, congestion control, and punitive policies. This paper takes a slightly different tack and describes what happens at an intersection where the traffic signals are malfunctioning and stuck in some configuration. By modelling individual vehicles as agents, we were able to replicate the surprisingly organized traffic flow that we observed at a real malfunctioning intersection in urban India. Counter-intuitively, the very lawlessness that normally causes jams was causing traffic to flow smoothly at this intersection. We situate this research in the context of other research on emergent complex phenomena in traffic, and suggest further lines of research that could benefit from the analysis and modelling of rule-breaking behaviour.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kumar S, Mitra S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation

Year: 2006

Volume: 9

Issue: 4

Pages: 3

ISSN (print): 1460-7425

Publisher: University of Surrey, Department of Sociology



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