Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > The Platform

Routers as Traffic Cops…Literally

April 12, 2007
at 12:00 pm PST

One of my pet peeves of living in the Bay Area is that people just don’t use their turn signals. I don’t know why it is so difficult, but I would say that 1 out of 2 Bay Area drivers look at the turn signal as an irrelevant appendage. There is now technology being developed that allows a user to “think” something and physically make it happen…something called Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). Say, turn the lights on or off or open the garage door. You have to train your brain to do this, but with the device on your head, it can read your brain waves and you can make inantimate objects (albeit electrical or motorized) move. Here’s hoping that technology can also be applied to the turn signal.traffic cop.jpg(Image from Flickr -- by Rogue Soul)Which made me think a bit about traffic…another cross that Bay Area residents must bear. Sure, we’ve got nearly perfect weather all the time. We’re close to the beach, the mountains and live in an area where thousands upon thousands choose as their vacation spot every year, but we’ve got the whole turn signal and traffic thing going against us. Somehow we’ll survive.You’ve likely heard of routers as the “traffic cops” of the Internet. Why can’t we use similar technology for actual traffic? Think about it. Routers move packets in the most efficient way from A to B. There are routing tables and if one section of the ‘net is down then the packet will find another route, etc. Just like we do with our cars when one route is too busy or a wreck occurs. Can we give IP addresses to all of our vehicles, imbed wireless devices in them and let them communicate with their fellow cars on the road to find the most efficient, quickest, traffic-free way home? We’ve already got a GPS system (just like the Internet, initially developed by the government) that will help direct cars from point A to B. Why not just program in where you are going and let your GPS and car’s IP address take you there? Maybe it sounds a bit like a Woody Allen movie, but can this be that far off?

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.

1 Comments.


  1. To take this one stage further and to continue with your networking analogy. To truly ‘route’ cars you need a network and you need to be able to control each of the packets, rather than the packets controlling themselves. In otherwords, you need ‘tracks’ upon which vehicles would travel. By the system controlling the vehicles, there wouldn’t wrecks and the density of traffic could be greatly increased as you lower buffers between vehicles. Essentially you would enter your destination and perhaps drive into ‘the network’. Prior to entering you would have ‘freedom’, afterwards you would relinquish control. The network would then control your speed, direction, route, everything. It also solves one of the other ‘glass ceilings’ of transportation which is speed’s dependancy on friction i.e. tires on road. wheels on rails allow a much higher speed. And as the network is controlling speed, there cannot be ‘slower’ cars. Everyone could theoretically travel at 200 mph. Obviously you would need tributaries to allow cars to accelerate / deccelerate to the network speed. Tahoe in To take this one stage further and to continue with your networking analogy. To truly ‘route’ cars you need a network and you need to be able to control each of the packets, rather than the packets controlling themselves. In otherwords, you need ‘tracks’ upon which vehicles would travel. By the system controlling the vehicles, there wouldn’t wrecks and the density of traffic could be greatly increased as you lower buffers between vehicles. Essentially you would enter your destination and perhaps drive into ‘the network’. Prior to entering you would have ‘freedom’, afterwards you would relinquish control. The network would then control your speed, direction, route, everything. It also solves one of the other ‘glass ceilings’ of transportation which is speed’s dependancy on friction i.e. tires on road. wheels on rails allow a much higher speed. And as the network is controlling speed, there cannot be ‘slower’ cars. Everyone could theoretically travel at 200 mph. Obviously you would need tributaries to allow cars to accelerate / deccelerate to the network speed. Tahoe in < an hour and you could read the paper while you do it…

       0 likes