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Wed, 05/24/2017 - 09:17 -- sdukbewiser

Could traffic lights with a mind of their own spell the end of rush hour jams

Wed, 24/05/2017
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Could traffic lights with a mind of their own spell the end of rush hour jams

All too often it feels as though it takes an age for the lights to change from red to green, but what if traffic lights were operated by more than just a timer? New traffic lights could incorporate artificial intelligence to better manage traffic flow, putting an end to sitting and waiting at clear junctions.

Amie Gordan, The Mail Online, reports:

Groundbreaking new traffic lights fitted with artificial intelligence could create safer roads and bring an end to rush hour gridlock.

'Smart' traffic lights will monitor speed and congestion, prioritise cyclists, buses and ambulances with green lights and use heatmaps to analyse how pedestrians and motorists are using the roads.

Milton Keynes is set to be the first city to trial the £3 million project from September, with 2,500 sensors monitoring all major junction points and car parking spaces.

The monitors recognise different vehicles and individual road users and will be able to regulate traffic in real-time.

At present, traffic lights are sequenced but not reactive to the vehicles around them and traffic monitoring is still done manually.

Cameras will also allow traffic lights to prioritise cyclists, buses or ambulances with green lights.

Vehicle dashboards that communicate with traffic lights could also flag the presence of cyclists to lorry drivers.

The technology could also enable traffic lights to communicate with driverless cars around the corner and inform them if pedestrians are crossing the road.

Vivacity Labs, which created the technology, has now secured a £1.7m project grant to roll out a city-wide sensor network.

The creators said the Milton Keynes scheme was the first step in creating an intelligent traffic management system, 'that avoids bottlenecks and improves safety by influencing traffic movement as it happens, based on the type of traffic and monitoring the areas where it becomes congested.'

Yang Lu, Chief Technology Officer at Vivacity Labs said: 'There is very limited intelligence to the current management of urban roads.

'By introducing AI into the camera itself, Vivacity Labs has created a system that accurately identifies and reports road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error.

This lays the groundwork for the smart city of the future, using data flows to guide driverless vehicles to their destination with minimal congestion.

'It also improves traffic today as it can be linked with existing management systems to keep vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, safe by giving priority at lights, or alter signs to direct traffic away from congestion.'

'The Innovate UK project will help demonstrate the value of the data our device creates, giving us the basis to offer our system to local municipalities across the world.'

Milton Keynes is built on a grid system, making it a great candidate to trial the new traffic lights. But will they work? And if so, how long will it be until they’re rolled out nationwide?

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