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Definition: virtual traffic lights


Automated traffic lights. Virtual traffic lights (VTLs) may become a reality before self-driving cars are widespread as demonstrated by the Virtual Traffic Lights venture of Carnegie Mellon University in 2017. Using the IEEE 802.11p wireless standard, vehicles communicate their GPS locations, which combined with digital maps, makes one car the "leader." The leader assigns a red light to the direction it is heading and gives a green light to the perpendicular traffic. After a set amount of time, a leader is selected from the green light traffic, and the cycle starts over again. See 802.11p.

No Lights at All
The ultimate manifestation of virtual traffic lights is no physical lights. When self-driving cars and trucks are the only vehicles on the road, stopping and starting is expected to be automated entirely. See V2X and self-driving car.