Have you ever seen a United Parcel Service truck turn left in an urban area?
Only about 32 percent of you can say “Yes.” UPS is at the cutting edge of parcel transportation. Engineers have developed a software program to shorten the time, carbon emission and cost of transit from their routes. This not only saves the company millions of dollars a year, but also reduces their carbon footprint.
A study by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association has proven 22.2 percent of collisions at intersections are caused by left turns, which is incomparable to the 1.2 percent of accidents caused by right turns.
Given driving a truck for a living entails spending long hours on the road, delivery truck drivers can become fatigued and therefore less likely to be giving the road all of their attention. By eliminating left turns, the company decreases the risk faced not only by its drivers, but its also the risk faced by other drivers.
In terms of reducing their carbon footprint and increasing efficiency, spending time waiting at a traffic light in order to make a left turn wastes time, damages the vehicle and emits fumes needlessly. By idling, time and gas are consumed, therefore money is wasted.
The time wasted waiting at red lights to make left turns could be used delivering more packages. According to an article published by Business Insider, where a study done by Myth Busters was sited, by turning right a UPS can deliver 350,000 more packages per year and save 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted, which is the equivalent to what is emitted by 21,000 cars.
As well, UPS saves around 10 million gallons of gas a year by having routes that are, on average, six to eight miles shorter than competitors.
This algorithm has much broader applications than just delivering packages. Once autonomous cars become more prevalent this algorithm could nearly eliminate their susceptibility to human error, in regard to intersections.