Skip to main content
Email Print Share

The Discovery Files - Compute Your Commute

The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone.

The Discovery Files - Compute Your Commute

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

They'll tell you where you can go.

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation

With an average 45-minute commute to work, over ten years, you'll spend more than five months just sitting in your car.

Now there's a promising new web technology aimed at shortening that time. A way to know the best time for you to leave, what specific route to take, and if there are any new problems along the way.

Already available in select cities, software developers have come up with a system that uses data from sensors along your route, together with known traffic obstacles from police and highway department sources, to configure a personal plan for your daily commute. The service can even call your cell phone to alert you of new hang-ups.

The difference between this service and other traffic reporting is its ability to interpret the data and make slowdown predictions, and predict your travel time on alternate routes. The website is, and for now it's the closest thing we have to a commuter crystal ball.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally-sponsored research brought to you! Learn more at

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.