Artificial city

A new artificial intelligence traffic light could shorten journeys

Image for article titled A new AI-powered traffic light could help you cut journey times

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon (Getty Images)

Ask any nerd and they’ll tell you that artificial intelligence is taking over. It may not always be for the best, but ultimately it seems the technology is being put to good use – in traffic lights.

A new study from Germany indicates that the use of AI technology by traffic lights can enable faster and smoother traffic. This means I won’t have to wait at intersections any longer than necessary, which is a plus if you’re as impatient as I am.

One of the study partners with the aggressive German name – the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation – recently installed high-resolution cameras and radar sensors at a busy intersection with a traffic light in the city of Lemgo, according to New Atlas. The configuration recorded the number of vehicles waiting for the traffic light to change, the time each had to wait, and the average speed a vehicle traveled through the intersection.

Scientific magic was then used to train a computer algorithm based on machine learning. He experimented with different light changing patterns. They would constantly adapt to real-time traffic conditions and determine which worked best to reduce wait times.

According to simulations, the best AI models could improve traffic flow by 10-15%. That might not seem like a ton, but add up all the time you spend at arm’s length at a long traffic light and cut 15% off. Not bad.

The algorithm will be used to operate traffic lights at real intersections in Germany over the next few months, and can only get better.

The study also aims to find ways to reduce waiting times at pedestrian crossings. Among other things, they use LiDAR sensors to assess the walking speed of pedestrians to ensure they have enough time to cross before the fire ignites.

We therefore hope that this technology will prove useful and will then be adapted for wide use. Because if I get stuck behind one more car that refuses to turn right on red longer than necessary, I might lose my mind.