A new pedestrian crossing in South London uses sensors, cameras and LED lights to respond to the movement of road users and pedestrians.
The smart crossing, known as the Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing), is a responsive road surface developed by technology company Umbrellium, drawing on work by the Transport Research Laboratory.
While it uses familiar road markings and colours, the new crossing reacts dynamically in real-time to different conditions and is able to modify its pattern, layout, configuration, size and orientation in order to prioritise pedestrian safety.
For instance, it gets wider when more people want to cross, and shows warning lights when pedestrians get too close to the road.
At times when there are few pedestrians around, the crossing may only appear when someone approaches, guiding them to the crossing location that it has learned over time is the safest.
If a child runs into the road unexpectedly, the lights create a buffer zone around them to make their trajectory clear to any nearby drivers or cyclists.
Moreover, if a pedestrian is rushing across the street but is in a cyclist’s or driver’s blindspot, the crossing adapts in real-time to draw their attention directly to the hidden pedestrian’s location and trajectory.
“We’ve been designing a pedestrian crossing for the 21st century,” said Usman Haque, Umbrellium’s founding partner. “Crossings that you know were designed in the 1950s, when there was a different type of city and interaction.”
The full-scale prototype, which has been installed temporarily, is designed to remain slip-free in the rain, and to display markings bright enough to be seen during daytime.
Welcoming the innovation, Jason Wakeford, Head of Campaigns at road safety charity Brake, told the Daily Mirror “This innovative pilot is a great example of how technology can help to improve road safety.”
“We look forward to seeing the results of this trial and hope smart crossings will be rolled out in towns and cities across the country