Stanford aims to reduce traffic congestion

April 4, 2012, 2:15 a.m.

Congestion and Parking Relief Incentives (Capri), a new Stanford research program, enables 12,000 Stanford and other local drivers to earn cash prizes online by avoiding driving during high-traffic hours.

Balaji Prabhakar, director of the project and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, said in the Stanford Report that the project’s goal is to effectively and efficiently motivate people to reduce rush-hour traffic, a growing concern in Santa Clara County, by awarding monetary prizes.

Those eligible to enroll in the study insert a unique identification tag to the inside of their windshield detectable to scanners at 10 main campus entry points. Those that avoid the weekday 8 to 9 a.m. rush hour and 5 to 6 p.m. are automatically rewarded credits for the project’s online game that pays users random cash prizes of $2 to $50.

“We couldn’t think about doing this kind of thing in the 20th century,” Prabhakar told the Stanford Report. “With today’s technology, it’s feasible to install low-cost sensors on a wireless network and make use of new Internet technology.”

If Capri reaches its goal of reducing traffic by at least a few hundred cars, it may qualify for University funding once its current federal funding runs out.

Students living on campus are ineligible.

The results of the project will be presented and discussed at the Precourt Institute for Energy’s weekly energy seminar on May 14.

— Ileana Najarro

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