The future is always something new we can dream about, never quite put our finger on and laugh at when it gets too crazy.

Bruce Wallace

Yes, I’m still waiting for the George Jetson Jet Pack 3600 with the Easy Landing options.

Sure, it’s easy to laugh at what others might tell us the future might be. But… long as we’re talking about driverless cars…..

OK, I know. “There is no way on God’s green earth that they will take driving away from me. Those driverless cars will be the end of civilization as we know it. Driverless cars will get us all killed.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And they told Edison the electric light would make everyone blind. Or something like that.

But this is not about driverless cars. We all know that we will be chauffeured around in the future. Foregone conclusion.

But in the not-too-distant future, when all the cars on the roads drive themselves, traffic and traffic lights won’t be necessary.

That’s right. The 7 billion hours and three billion gallons of fuel we Americans spend sitting at traffic lights each year will be a moot point, according to a PhD engineering student.

Ali Fayazi, who recently graduated from Clemson University with a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering, has created a way to facilitate a more efficient way to move traffic by having cars interact with each other through their computers.

Fayazi’s intelligent traffic control system is on a remote server and tracks all cars approaching a given intersection. It messages the cars with the best times to arrive and the cars use that data to adjust their speeds and routes so they can safely pass with as few stops as possible.

You might not think that is much when we are talking about a new roundabout at the intersection of Broadway and Henry Clay, but have you driven in traffic in Atlanta? Confederate soldiers staring down Sherman’s canons as he arrived on the outskirts of Cobb County were safer than the motorists who dare to drive I-285 around the south’s largest metro area.

Cars talking among themselves in order to manage traffic?

Hmmm. For some reason I’m doubtful.

But before you turn the page, realize this: Fayazi tested his ‘traffic controller’ on a closed test track at the International Transportation Innovation Center in Greenville, S.C. – with great success.

Fayazi and another engineering professor each drove their person cars through an imaginary intersection marked with traffic cones. A smartphone app in each car connected to the remote intelligent intersection controller via a cellular network. The controller tracked the cars and sent speed recommendations to the drivers. With the controller and the apps running algorithms continuously, they were capable of making real-time adjustments. Testing the system in this way, admitted other automotive engineers, allow Fayazi to claim his theory of having no traffic lights as a potential reality, something that has never before been accomplished.

Future plans are to test the technology in a “smart city” project test with a platoon of autonomous vehicles.

Believe it?

Me? I read the article two or three times – and I still don’t know what to make of it. I’m not even sure of these “driverless” cars. But I also know many folks thought Edison and his light bulb was a crock.

No more traffic? No traffic lights? Pretty soon, we will need to find a new excuse for being late.