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SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY : Atomic Gadget Could Speed Traffic Flow, Odetics Proclaims

August 06, 1991|Dean Takahashi / Times staff writer

Tired of waiting at every single traffic light? Odetics Inc. in Anaheim says it has developed a way to synchronize traffic lights by using the highly accurate atomic time signal. Called the UTS-10, the Odetics product is being marketed to cities and government agencies around the country as a way to improve traffic control, said Donald Greenspan, an Odetics vice president.

The device works by receiving and decoding time and date signals that are transmitted on a specific radio frequency.

The atomic device replaces a traffic light's mechanical clock, which is less efficient because it must be manually synchronized every few days by workers, Greenspan said.

"There are direct cost savings since cities won't have to send maintenance crews out as often to synchronize the mechanical clocks that control the existing traffic signals," Greenspan said. "It could also cut commuting time and result in less gasoline consumption."

Greenspan says that by synchronizing traffic lights to the same time signal within a tenth of a second, the UTS-10 can help reduce pollution in Southern California by up to 7,000 tons a year.

For instance, by synchronizing Los Angeles County's traffic lights, the company says motorists can save 55,000 hours a day in driving time and 22 million gallons of fuel a year because drivers won't have to slow down, stop or accelerate so often.

Greenspan estimates that the national market is in the millions of dollars.

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