AI Traffic Lights Arrive in Milton Keynes
by Henry Floyd |
posted 11 June 2017
As a pointer to what the future holds for drivers, we now have cars that can cruise without you pressing the accelerator, tell you when reversing whether you’re going to hit a bollard, well even park themselves. Shortly, Artificial Intelligence is about to take over traffic flow.
There are plans for Milton Keynes to become the first place in the UK to begin using an AI-powered traffic management system. The system will control the traffic lights to direct traffic more efficiently and help avoid traffic jams, as well as give priority to public transport and emergency vehicles.
A number of partners have come together to make this happen including The Department for Business, who are making £1.7 million available for the project and a company called Vivacity Labs. They will be installing around 2,500 cameras into traffic lights across Milton Keynes from this September ready for a start date in 2018.
"There is very limited intelligence to the current management of urban roads,” said Yang Lu, chief technology officer at Vivacity Labs. “Traffic lights are sequenced but rarely reactive to the levels of traffic around them. Traffic monitoring is still done manually."
Of course, it’s quite common for signals to run on timers nowadays, and there are some ‘Smart’ road systems already in use, such as London’s SCOOT. But this is a major sign of a growing trend towards traffic smart cities which will only become more popular over time.
Milton Keynes is a good choice for this pioneering technology, as there are already new style systems to monitor its energy and water use in place. So, this will be seen as another part of a drive to make Britain's towns and cities more efficient by the use of technology.
When fully active, the system will be able to keep an eye on major junctions and car parking spaces in a 50-square mile zone. They will be focussed on tackling congestion, though there will be safety benefits for other road users like pedestrians and cyclists.
Eventually, the new system will have the capacity to communicate with driverless cars, but whether this will really end those annoying rush hour traffic queues remains to be seen.