Automotive

A New Artificial Intelligence Traffic Light Could Help Shorten Your Commute Times


Image for article titled A New Artificial Intelligence Traffic Light Could Help Shorten Your Commute Times

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon (Getty Images)

Ask any nerd and they’ll say artificial intelligence is taking over. That may not always be for the best, but finally it seems the tech is being put to good use – in traffic lights.

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A new study out of Germany says having traffic lights use AI technology may keep traffic flowing faster and smoother. That means I won’t have to wait at intersections longer than I have to, which is a plus if you’re as impatient as I am.

One of the partners in the study with an aggressively 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 setup recorded the number of vehicles waiting for the light to change, the amount of time each of them had to wait and the average speed a vehicle drove through the intersection.

Science wizardry was then used to train a machine-learning based computer algorithm. It experimented with different light-changing patterns. They would continuously adapt to real time traffic conditions and see which ones worked best to keep wait times down.

According to the simulations, the best artificial intelligence patterns could improve traffic flow by 10 to 15 percent. That may not sound like a ton, but add up all the time you spend white-knuckled at a long traffic light, and chop 15 percent off. Not too bad.

The algorithm will be used to run the traffic lights at actual intersections in Germany for the next few months, and can only get better.

The study is also looking to find ways to reduce waiting times at crosswalks for pedestrians. They’re using LiDAR sensors among other things to assess the walking speed of pedestrians to make sure they have enough time to cross before the light turns on them.

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So, here’s hoping this tech proves helpful and is then adapted for wide use. Because, if I get stuck behind one more car that refuses to make a right on red for longer than I have to, I may just lose my freaking mind.

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