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Could ‘smart’ traffic lights end congestion?

Practical Motoring logo Practical Motoring 05-06-2017 Isaac Bober

A trial of ‘smart’ traffic lights in the UK city of Milton Keynes could see the end of sequence-based traffic lights, and the rise of reactive lights. 

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A UK-BASED TECHNOLOGY company, Vivacity Labs has won a government-backed contract to install 2500 artificial intelligence cameras into traffic lights that will be capable of monitoring traffic in Milton Keynes. The cameras will communicate with each other and react to traffic conditions to improve flow, rather than simply operating on a sequence-based system.

Chief technology officer at Vivacity Lab, Yang Lu said: "There is very limited intelligence to the current management of urban roads. Traffic lights are sequenced but rarely reactive to the levels of traffic around them. Traffic monitoring is still done manually.

"The AI camera accurately identifies and reports road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error.

"It can improve 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,” said Yang Lu.

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The ‘clever’ lights will cover an area in Milton Keynes of around 50-square miles and be able to monitor major junctions and even parking spaces. According to Vivacity Labs, priority will be given to ambulances, buses and even cyclists to help reduce bottlenecks and congestions at traffic lights. It’s another step towards preparing for autonomous cars, Vivacity Labs said.

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