From chatbots to live streams, 21st century technology has made our lives quick, efficient and flexible.

But when we get in the car, it feels like we might as well be living in Game of Thrones.

Every day it’s the same old traffic and frustration of yesteryear.  Fortunately, congestion, which consumes 7 billion hours of lost time and 3 billion gallons of wasted fuel, may soon be a thing of the past.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taking the technology pioneered by ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft to the next level. Uber and Lyft use smartphone data to connect drivers and riders in real time.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) improved the car matching computer program by enabling it to see all potential drivers, riders, and trip combinations in real time. The result is that drivers can pick up more than one passenger with little loss of time.

When the researchers applied the new system to New Year City taxi cabs, the result was nothing short of amazing. The new system could accommodate 98 percent of taxi demand using 3,000 cabs instead of the current 14,000. The average wait time would be only 2.7 minutes. In another simulation, 95 percent of the demand was met with 2,000 ten person vans.

In other words, with the enhanced ride sharing technology, there would be two thirds as many cars on the road. That means less traffic, less smog, and less honking (maybe, this is New York City after all).

The technology is promising for both high density cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and for even for less dense, medium sized cities Denver and Austin. It also shows how science and free market innovation can increase efficiency, decrease energy consumption, and improve quality of life.

Unfortunately, government regulation too often stifles innovation like this. Learn more about the impact of government regulations and how we can find smarter, more innovative solutions to problems through the free market.

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