Milton Keynes is to install more than 2,500 ‘smart’ traffic lights, becoming the first place in the UK to use the new technology.
The lights will use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect where there is heavy traffic and adjust their pattern to ease congestion, the Milton Keynes Citizen reports. They will also automatically give priority to ambulances, buses and cyclists.
A company called Vivacity Labs, which developed the technology, will start installing 2,500 AI-powered cameras in traffic lights in a 50 square mile area across the city from September.
Yang Lu, chief technology officer at Vivacity Labs, 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.”
But with the new smart traffic lights, Lu explained: “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.”
The smart lights could also make roads safer by alerting vehicles when there are hazards nearby, and in the future they will be able to communicate with driverless cars.
According to the Telegraph, Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, has invested £1.7m in the project as part of its drive to make cities more efficient using technology.
The AI-powered traffic management system is expected to start operating next year.