Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stuck In Traffic? Drive Like An Ant.


Scientists are down on the ground trying to steal a few ideas from the humble intelligent ant (hereinafter called ‘the more intelligent driver’) on how to manage traffic. And with good reason. Even when they’re moving in their millions, the little critters never get into snarl ups. I don’t know just how applicable their intelligence could be when it comes to the assortment of mean machines that roam the roads. In defense of the human driver:

  • First the ‘more intelligent drivers’ are not driving. They are walking. Who knows maybe they too could bring on the jams if they were driving. Walking humans do not get jammed now do they?

  • Second, our paths (roads) are not soaking in pheromones to let other drivers know what’s cutting. We have indicators and other signals which we sometimes don’t use. We have overweight cops and traffic rules which we follow only when absolutely necessary. And we have hand signs. An insulting finger sometimes. Oh and we have honks - shoulders to lean on in fits of road rage.

  • The ‘more intelligent drivers’ do not suffer from such affiliations as inflated egos. They don’t have their ears jammed with modern bits of technology. They don’t eat, drink coffee, dance, talk, SMS or tweet when driving.

  • Ok so ants move in single file, never overtaking one another. Maybe they’re never in a hurry and they don’t need/cant handle the adrenaline. Plus they can create divert paths out of nowhere in the unlikely even that they encounter an intelligent grid lock. In any event, they’re so feather light they can walk all over one another.

Seriously though, there is something there. Apparently ant traffic principles are already in use in some developed countries. Maybe not because the ants discovered them before but because some ways to control traffic are just obvious. What remains is implementation. Developed countries have not grabbed their road reserves, they’ve not yet emptied their coffers, and they have the political will to build Autobahns.


In our case, that would have to be 2031 when we have intelligent roads that can sniff a snarl up from miles away and miraculously open up side roads (leaving the VIP ones alone) to divert traffic and ease the impending jam already.


See Also: Traffic Jams Coming To Mombasa.

14 Comments:

Mama Shujaa said...

Just the other day, we passed a very intelligent driver on the highway. She was knitting! Yes, KNITTING a blanket while driving at 45 mph on 85 North in Atlanta.

Mid boggling. I mean, are we so super intelligent these days that we get so bored while driving? I mean it's not enough to "eat, drink coffe, dance, talk, SMS, tweet..."

Very interesting Shiko! I am all for learning from God's lovely creatures.

joyunspeakable said...

Shiko, check the bill boards...the blackberry ad says it all...do it now...so as you drive...dont just drive, text, tweet, fb, do it now...hehehehe...only be intelligent...cos accidents are shit happening due to this...

we need a road plan..comprehensive...someone said the other day that the colonialists planned the road system as it is...to cater for only 500 cars in Nairobi.....

KENYANTYKOON said...

I was watching CNN a short while back and they were talking about this issue. The geeky scientists have found that ants and locusts hace really sensitive receptors on their heads with which they can sense other ants/locusts within a millionth of a mm and move before they collide.(nice huh?) Those geeks should find a way of incorporating that into cars instead of building nuclear bombs and hacking our computers:)
ps nice post. it has just earned you a spot on my blogroll;D

- http://kenyantykoon.wordpress.com/

Our Kid said...

he he. You are crazy gone mad? Learning from ants? Why don't we just invent tiny cars for those ants so that they can have disorder. Who wants order in society? Oh wait.. only me? LOL!

If an ant hit another with those receptors, will they go to court.. oh wait for it.. and become LitigAnts?

Tamaku said...

'the more intelligent drivers’ are not driving. They are walking.' So true. We need that fibre optic in every home so that fewer people commute.

Mo said...

Well, unfortunately, ants have no choice over how they act how they do. They just... do.

Now when it comes to us humans with our free will and accompanying issues e.g. impatience leading to driving on road shoulders, turning 2 lane roads into 5 lane roads and whatnot....

Ok, maybe its just us Kenyans. Perhaps we need to have our 'free will' withdrawn. Teach us a lesson.

Jellyfish said...

Hi Wanjiku.

There are plans for future cars to develope nano technology that would mimic the behaviour of ants to create a sort of intelligent awareness system that would prevent collisions. It would operate like a radar system only it would be more intelligent and sensitive.

BP 1 said...

Ayi, shiko, don’t tell me human beings are so desperate with their traffic jam nuisance and are turning to ants for solutions .Anyway am ready to be taught a free 101 course on traffic jam by “the more inelegant drivers” if it will help ease congestion from our roads. I doubt if it will...In my opinion what we are lacking , when it comes to traffic jams is discipline ,patience and following the traffic laws to the letter....do we expect ants to teach us that?

Shiko-Msa said...

Mama Shujaa I can’t picture that! Driving and knitting? I was taught knitting and as far as I can recall it involves quite a bit of concentration. And both hands!

Joyunspeakable they haven’t put up the blackberry bill boards around here I think. Not sure but I’ll check it out. But I get your point. The colonialists planned a road system for 500 cars and then went on home and build theirs to accommodate thousands! Kwani they thought we’d never buy cars? There’s something happening as far as the road plan is concerned as I saw recently in Nairobi. Here too they’ve demolished a few kiosks in a bid to make wider roads. Problem is do we have the space to build an elaborate system within the cities?

Kenyan Tycoon welcome and thanks for the blogroll honour. I shall most certainly revenge. Ants have receptors and loads of pheromones to mark their paths. Now the geeks. Geeks for world peace! I see there’s something for aviation geeks too – the locusts. But there’s enough pathways up there so they should first tackle the engines sucking in birds phenomenon. As recently as the Hudson River incident there was talk of birds.

Ourkid the geeks are already busy designing tiny cars for humans first for environmental conservation and second to ease packing and said jams in urban areas. Who wants order in society? At least not the media who would have to close shop if there was order. And all those politicians who thrive on sensationalist speeches. Lol @ head-on receptor collisions and LitigAnts. You’re the one whose crazy going mad.

Tamaku the fibre is coming for sure. They’ve dug up pavements around here and there’s huge rolls of cable all over the place. Those who can manage to work from home, good for them. Lucky.

Mo turning 2 lanes into 5, taking up cyclist and pedestrian lanes and harassing them from there. I see that a lot esp on Nyali Bridge. Dudes drive on the wrong lanes and then keep hooting at the cyclists. Lol. We’re so lost.

Jellyfish karibu. You can trust nano technology to do just that. Plus cars of the future will soon be able to communicate with each other over the Internet, which has the dual benefit of enabling crash prevention and also reducing traffic congestion in real-time. Other than that, Mercedes have made cars that detect an imminent frontal collision and applies the brakes and tightens up the seatbelts automatically to lessen the damage. http://uk.cars.yahoo.com/09062009/36/mercedes-airbags-outside-0.html

BP in Nairobi it’s near desperate alright. And we’re headed there. See the way congestion is slowly creeping on us in this town too. These days you can hardly get past Mkomani-Nyali-Cinemax area in the morning without a quarter hour jam at least. The bridge in the evenings is not the breeze it used to be. The ants better hurry up with their lessons.

NiKolaS said...

i would stick at the lack of traffic policy and or planning. the drivers on our roads. do not even get me started, we do not have the time for the rant that shall follow.

NiKolaS said...

common sense is not entirely too common. trust me on that one.

Shiko-Msa said...

NiKolaS common sense is actually rare esp on the roads. I can envision the mega rant to which you refer Lol. Better still we deal with errant drivers Obel style.

Cee said...

ROTFL!!!!!!!!! aiii nimekosa words ati what are people doing as they drive????....Mama hiyo yako ati knitting???? Dang that's really strange, I had thought the guy making Martinis was wierd lakini haiya.....I guess I will install a washing machine in my car then I can do my laundry especially on Mombasa road...

Shiko-Msa said...

Cee hiyo ya knitting is kali. But true today's driver is much busier on the road. I guess coz of spending too much time in gridlocks so they might as well occupy themselves doing other things.