The Osgood File. Sponsored in part by Auto Owners Insurance, the No Problem People. To find an independent agent near you, visit AutoOwners.Com. I’m Sam Litzinger, sitting in for Charles Osgood, on the CBS Radio Network.

You could argue that the traffic light is one of our greatest inventions…

NAT – Newsreel
“Some cities have lights, which are augmented by semaphores – while in other cities, the lights look like little houses, hanging from wires.” (:09)

But some very smart people at MIT think it’s time to make traffic lights go the way of the Edsel.

More after this from Charlie…

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How in the world did people drive someplace before traffic lights were invented?

This old newsreel reminds us how important those lights have become in our daily lives behind the wheel…

NAT – Newsreel
“The traffic signal puts you level with the world and keeps you even with safety, regardless of what car you drive.” (:07)

But now, we’re entering the era of driverless cars and cars that do everything for you but your laundry, and some folks at MIT – home to lots of clever people – have decided we don’t need traffic lights anymore.

( NAT / Traffic )

They’ve been studying this and find that smarter cars could mean no more stopping at red lights.

They’ve come up with what amounts to a central nervous system that can connect intersections with an incoming vehicle. Now, they’re working on a coordination system that will adjust the vehicle’s speed and bearing, based on its trajectory.

This is already way over my head, but the MIT researchers say what this would mean is that you wouldn’t have to stop for a red light because the system would keep everything moving.

For example, if you intend to turn left at an intersection, the system will read your trajectory and instruct you to drive behind another group of vehicles about to turn left. It’s all designed so cars won’t crash into each other.

They say you wouldn’t even need a smart car – you could do all this by installing a pair of sensors on your old jalopy now, meaning we could do all this tomorrow.

Well, assuming we want to.

Personally, I’m still waiting for those flying cars the science fiction people promised us decades ago.

The Osgood File. Sam Litzinger on the CBS Radio Network.