Ants better than humans at beating traffic jams

November 7th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Nov 7 (ANI): Even insects can prove useful in solving our day-to-day problems, as seen from a study of a colony of ants and the way they unclog traffic jams.

Dirk Helbing from the Dresden University of Technology in Germany says that watching the tiny little insects manoeuvre themselves around their colony with efficiency, could give an idea to humans and help them understand how traffic jams can be avoided and inspire more effective routing of road traffic.

He and his colleagues came to this conclusion after studying how ants move around their colony, reports New Scientist magazine.

For their study, the researchers set up an ant highway with two routes of different widths from the nest to some sugar syrup.

They observed that the narrower route became congested after sometime, and that when an ant returning back to the nest collided with an ant that was just starting out, the returning ant would push the other onto the other path.

But it was also observed that if the returning ant did not face any problem along the way, it would not redirect the other ant.

The research team then went on to create a computer model of more complex ant networks with routes of different lengths, and found that even though the ants, which had been redirected, took a longer route, they still managed to get to the food quickly and efficiently.

The exercise showed that if humans travelling in opposite directions passed off information on congestion to one another, there would be a lesser chance of a traffic jam. (ANI)

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