Could this app end traffic jams?

A new app finds cars the fastest routes to their destinations, in real time.

Whenever I travel somewhere new by car I check Google Maps to find the fastest route. But generally everyone else is also traveling on that preferred street or highway. Before I've even get started I'm stuck in traffic, leaving me to wonder: this might be the fastest route if I'm the only one driving it, but is there a faster way now?

A new app, Greenway, could be the answer. Its German designers have come up with an algorithm to find you the fastest route in current traffic that will use the least amount of fuel. And it doesn't just use alternate routes like you get with Google Maps.

The app offers you two options: The standard shortest route that you might get from Google Maps (the one everyone else is using) and, if available, a quicker Greenway option. Rachel Metz at Technology Review explains how the Greenway option works:

If you choose the Greenway path, the app will ping Greenway's server every 30 seconds with your GPS location to determine if the current route is still the best—a decision made based on knowledge about your location and speed and information about other Greenway users on the road.

Greenway assumes each street has a certain capacity based on its length, number of lanes, and speed limit, Brüggemann says, and reserves slots for participating drivers, directing cars so a road never reaches maximum capacity.

According to Greenway, taking their suggested route gets cars to their destinations twice as fast while saving 20 percent more fuel. The company does plan to charge a small fee each time you use the Greenway path. But if you don't get to your destination within the estimated time, the trip is free.

Check out Greenway's video from Microsoft's Imagine Cup, where the team won the environmental sustainability award.

Photo: Flickr/zman z28

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