Swarm, Driving, Traffic Signals and Crowd Sourced Data Processing

Funny thing I noticed recently.

I stopped paying as much attention to the surrounding when I drive as when I first started.

Not sure if you have noticed similar trend. When first start learning to drive, newbie drivers like me tend to be super stressed out because of the CRAZY amount of things I need to pay attention to: blind spots, car on the left, car on the right, upcoming intersections, is left turn forbidden here, what is that elderly pediatrician thinking planning to cross on red? etc etc etc…. Many many things. Experienced drivers check much fewer things: left turn: blank spot, biker, oncoming traffic, done. Outta here. In particular, I find interesting is the scenarios when it comes to  red light. Most people probably have the unfortunate experience of accidentally running the redlight a few times in their lives. From the few incidences I have seen, it is extremely rare for people to run red light when there are cars stopped at the intersection especially in the opposite direction or same direction, even if those cars are not in the same lane. On the other hand, people run red light usually when there is no car stopped at the red light lane. This observation got me thinking, maybe, it is not that we are paying attention to the light but more to the cars. In another way to look at this, perhaps we are not really following the signs/rules as diligently as we should have when we were beginners but instead, relying on other drivers’ reaction to the surrounding to gauge how we should behave.

Another example, beginner driver like me tend to stress over the speed I am driving at… constantly struggling between not exceeding speed limits too much but also at the same time ensure keep about similar pace as traffic surrounding them. That is especially stressful during late night driving when certain roads and some crowd tend to drive far far exceeding the speed limit but as a group. Eg. STM mignight buses.

Speaking from personal experience I think driving has become a balanced experience where while in the stream, I tend to follow how folks around me are driving and paying attention to very specific contextual details that are specific to me but relying on the other motorists to notice issues such as, oh they slowed down, I probably should slow down too, even if I am not in the same line. Herd instinct perhaps? While in the areas specific to my destination such as local streets etc, I have to be much more diligent.

Maybe the car of the future will be far more aware of each other’s presence and require relatively little onboard processing power but rely on the swarm of them to process the large amount of information required on the overall traversal goals. It would certainly be an interesting time.