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Ants: Jam-free traffic champions

Whereas human traffic, above a certain density threshold, slows to zero flow and causes a jam, ants seem to avoid the traffic jam trap by continuously adapting their traffic rules to suit local crowding,

CNRS NEWS: Traffic jams are a perfect example of what happens when too many individuals circulate together in the same space. Movements in large ant colonies, however, seem to sidestep this problem. To solve the mystery of how ants manage traffic so wonderfully, researchers conducted 170 filmed experiments to observe ants commuting between their nest and a food source. Tests took into account the width of the path and the number of individuals included in the study (between 400 and 25,600) in order to vary the density – the number of insects per unit of surface.

What they saw surprised them: when density increases, ant flows swell and then become constant, whereas human traffic, above a certain density threshold, slows to zero flow and causes a jam… Ants seem to avoid the traffic jam trap by continuously adapting their traffic rules to suit local crowding, whereas car traffic follows invariable rules such as stopping at a red light regardless of traffic’. SOURCE…

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