urbanova
night wide highway with moving cars

Milton Keynes is reported to be the first city in the UK to announce plans to install smart traffic lights, capable of
altering traffic patterns to ease congestion. The city is supported by Innovate UK and Tracsis, who will together invest £3 million in the technology that will become operational by September next year.

The Tracsis Group specialises in solving a variety of data capture, reporting and resource optimisation problems along with the provision of a range of associated professional services.

Innovate UK is the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency.

Traffic lights in the city currently run in sequences but are not designed to react to the vehicles passing through them, noted Vivacity Labs, a company that provides mobility tracking services, enabling detailed understanding of transport systems through video analytics.

"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.

Yu added: "The AI camera accurately identifies and reports road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error."

Adding 'smarts' to ease congestion

According to The Telegraph, Vivacity Labs will install 2,500 AI-powered cameras into the lights to monitor traffic around the city.

The sensors will cover a 50 square mile area (129 square kilometres) and monitor all major junctions and car parking spaces.

These retrofitted smart traffic lights will help prioritise ambulances, buses and cyclists and ease the flow of traffic to prevent bottlenecks.

"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," said Yu.

Innovate UK, has invested  £1.7 million into the project as part of its drive to make Britain's cities more efficient using technology.

It is hoped that with the aid of artificial intelligence, the smart traffic lights could spell the end of rush hour queues in British cities.

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