Every day as I am stuck in traffic heading into KL City, I dream of an era where the traffic lights are smart enough to sense traffic and change the traffic lights accordingly. This would evidently free up our great officers who toil through horrendous conditions such as smoggy environments and bad weather to ensure that millions of Malaysians get in and out of the city without too many issues. The rise of artificial intelligence has made many inventions but the one space that I was thinking about, may not be sexy enough for tech companies to focus on. Well, apparently I was wrong.
The team at Vivacity Labs will install 2,500 cameras across the town of Milton Keynes in the UK. Deemed as “smart” traffic lights, the system is targeted at solving rush hour traffic jams. The city council expects it to be up and fully running by September in 2018.
“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,” said. Yang Lu, chief technology officer at Vivacity Labs in a report by the Telegraph.
Vivacity will not be replacing the lights completely but complementing the age-old technology with AI powered cameras which can accurately identify and report road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error.
The potential is huge for smart traffic lights as it can extend further from just managing traffic to ensuring pedestrian safety, priority for ambulances and fire trucks and other safety aspects. I hope that it is very successful and can be replicated across cities around the globe.