A smart traffic light system that prioritizes cyclists over motorists is set to undergo testing at junctions in London and three other UK cities.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be tested in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Southampton this month, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of accidents on busy roads.
Trials, which were delayed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, will later reach south London, with developer Now Wireless explaining that the company has already been asked to provide a “ key component ” ahead of deployment in the capital.
As cyclists approach the AI-powered system, traffic light-mounted video cameras detect cyclists and force opposing signals to turn red, the Times reported.
The lights then change to give priority to the cyclist on the street at intersections, directional lights that could endanger road users also prevented a right turn.
The technology can also be adapted to cycle-only signals, which give bikes priority over all other vehicles traveling in the same direction.
New traffic light system that prioritizes cyclists over motorists before they even reach a junction is to undergo testing in three UK cities
Trials, which were delayed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, will later reach south London. Pictured: Cycle routes in Liverpool
The innovative system, which costs less than £ 700 to install at each traffic light, is a step up from existing traffic sensors – which struggle to recognize the presence of cyclists.
Smart traffic lights use artificial intelligence and cameras to prioritize cyclists
The innovative system works in four stages to prioritize the movement of cyclists at intersections.
1. Cyclists are detected by video cameras as they approach the AI-powered system.
2. Opposite lights turn red to traffic.
3. The lights will then change to give the cyclist street priority at intersections.
4. All directional traffic which could endanger road users is also stopped.
However, the news of the trial has been met with skepticism by some who have insisted that the cyclists are rushing ‘through red lights anyway’.
A social media user added: ‘I don’t think it will make a difference. ”
“Cyclists have never been ‘able’ to ignore red lights … it’s just some of them (not all) who choose to do so,” said another.
Brian Jackson, CEO of Now Wireless, explained that the system “ takes into account the reality that cyclists sometimes go at a red light, ” adding: “ It does it just by making sure it’s always green. for them. ”
“The system will allow city councils to send a message, where appropriate, that cycling is encouraged by prioritizing runners,” he said.
“Our system can be calibrated to give priority to a single cyclist approaching an intersection.”
About 35% of cyclists admitted at least “occasionally” ignoring a red light, according to a recent YouGov poll. Another study suggested that the red light jump figure was as high as 57%.
This has heightened fears for safety on the roads, particularly with four in ten people cycling or walking more between May and July than before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
About 94% believe it is “ likely that they will continue ” to travel by these means in the future, according to a study by the Ministry of Transport.
The innovative system, which costs less than £ 700 to install at each traffic light, is a step up from existing traffic sensors – which struggle to recognize the presence of cyclists. Pictured: Stock Image
It comes as hundreds of pop-up cycle lanes have been installed as part of the government’s £ 2 billion attempt to turn England into a nation of cyclists and walkers in order to reduce the spread of Covid- 19 in public transport.
Boris Johnson has insisted the coronavirus pandemic could mark a ‘golden age’ for cycling, with plans to prioritize cyclists over motorists unveiled by the Prime Minister in May.
In London, Sadiq Khan introduced the “Streetspace” program, which aims to encourage people to walk or cycle to work and school as an alternative to buses and trains.
Cars have been banned from the roads around popular parks, including St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park, as part of a trial to create ‘car-free’ spaces that will run for six months.
How traffic lights currently react to approaching traffic
Making cyclists a priority is currently not possible with traffic light equipment, which responds to traffic volumes in three ways:
These are integrated into the road before an intersection, responding to tire pressure.
Cyclists are not applying enough pressure to trigger the system.
This only responds to the heat of the engines, so cyclists are “invisible”.
This sensor only identifies the presence of a vehicle there, not what type.
The mayor of London has come under heavy criticism for cutting off parts of the capital and widening sidewalks to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians following the Covid-19 lockdown.
The aim is to encourage more people to walk or cycle to work, but many motorists and bus users fear London will now stop as the return to work continues.
Roads around the capital have become blocked with particular hot spots found in south London around the areas of Tooting, Stockwell, Balham and Clapham.
Motorists criticized Mr Khan for ‘sabotaging’ London’s roads with the redesign, others sharing images of traffic jams and saying their journeys have more than doubled by the move.
A Twitter user said: ‘I bet Sadiq Khan’s sabotage of London’s roads to make way for the majority of unused cycle lanes will cost the city more lives than Covid-19. ”
John O’Connor tweeted a photo of a traffic jam, saying: ‘My two hour drive every day which usually takes around 50 minutes to an hour from work now.
“Because when I get to Stockwell every day, it takes up to 45 minutes to get across Clapham, then Balham to Tooting Broadway another 30 minutes.
Opposition is also growing in Brighton, Essex and Cheshire, where one-way systems, widened sidewalks and road closures have been imposed to facilitate social distancing.
Residents and traders are increasingly frustrated by the controversial measures, which they say are causing long delays and decimating attendance.
Critics say the measures have little impact on the transmission of Covid-19 and are used by councils to enforce “anti-car” policies and extend cycle lanes.
Previously, Now Wireless has revealed that its innovative smart traffic lights will help tackle rising levels of air pollution on UK roads.
The AI-powered system can manipulate red and green lights to restrict traffic heading to air pollution hot spots, after collecting data on pollutant concentrations from historical records and ground sensors.
An algorithm then combines this with the traffic models to predict places likely to see a spike in air pollution within an hour.
Drivers heading to these locations will then be faced with red lights lasting up to 20 seconds longer than usual, to slow the influx of traffic into the affected area.
Data from inside cars feeds into the system, with Bluetooth signals sent through phones and cars picked up by sensors at traffic lights.
This helps the computer system to organize a forecast of specific locations due to an influx of vehicles.
People exiting these areas will be given extended green lights to help speed up traffic from heavily polluted areas.
Mr Jackson told MailOnline in May: ‘We have been working on this for five years and it is UK based R&D.
“ Pollution is a dangerous problem for communities and being able to predict pollution an hour in advance gives traffic managers time to modify traffic flows to alleviate, if not remove, it, and not to create accumulations elsewhere, but to equalize. ”
The system can then be adjusted in real time as models change, constantly manipulating traffic and reducing vapors released into the atmosphere from idling cars.