Milton Keynes will be the first to trial advanced congestion-fighting tech

Traffic lights that can cut congestion by intelligently adjusting their cycles to real-time demands are to be rolled out in Britain next year.

Developed by urban mobility solution company Vivacity, the lights are able to skip certain phases of green if a junction is empty, giving priority to the roads with the highest traffic in order to reduce overall congestion.

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They can also give priority to certain vehicle types, which are identified using cameras, in order to improve safety. Cyclists, buses and ambulances are among the list of vehicle types that could be given priority or earlier green phases.

Initially, 2500 of the new traffic lights will be installed across 50 miles of Milton Keynes so their cameras can gather data for the technology. Across 12 months of 'learning', the system’s use of artificial intelligence will help it to improve its understanding of each vehicle type to become more effective over time.

In the second half of next year, the data can then be used in Milton Keynes’ traffic management system, and its potential can be tested in real-world scenarios. It is hoped the system will attract interest from other councils so it is added to other regions.

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The £3 million project is being part-funded by a £1.7 million grant from the UK’s innovation agency, with ambitions for it to help to cut the UK’s growing traffic issues.

Farther into the future, the system could integrate a warning system that alerts drivers of hazards, such as a cyclist passing in a lorry’s blind spot.

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Comments
5

16 May 2017
that if the system is adjusted to make allowances for cyclists and buses any advantage to traffic flow would be largely negated.
If a junction is operating at max efficiency this would provide a benefit to all road users and is the best option.Bikes and buses will still be better off with this system than the old technology.
What Milton Keynes, and everywhere else, needs to do is try and remove some of the 2500 ! sets of lights altogether.
Then look at removing road humps and put speed limits back up to there 1990 levels. We might then start turning the country from a car park into somewhere with decent productivity levels. ;-)

16 May 2017
On roundabouts and other junctions where they are only needed at peak hours.

Other junctions could adopt the German flashing orange for all lights during late evening and overnight. All saves fuel!

16 May 2017
Ruaraidh wrote:

On roundabouts and other junctions where they are only needed at peak hours.

Other junctions could adopt the German flashing orange for all lights during late evening and overnight. All saves fuel!

Quite right to, it's not only maddening to be sat at a red light when there's no traffic at the junction but, as Ruaraidh rightly says, it's a waste of fuel.

16 May 2017
Most buses round here run nearly empty, so undeserving of any special privileges. Cyclists, no comment. (No polite one, anyway). Ambulances and emergency vehicles in general don't need camera recognition, necessarily. The smart traffic light systems I've seen in the US often have the capability for emergency vehicles to change the lights in their own favour using a simple radio transmitter. It doesn't need to be more complicated than that.

I definitely second the idea of switching traffic lights to flashing amber at off peak times, and switching them off completely on roundabouts when not needed. Perhaps a smart traffic light system could monitor traffic levels and do that itself.

Another thing that seems to work fine in the US is allowing turning on a red light. Not in all states, but in most you can turn right on a red light, giving way to any traffic crossing the junction. So in the UK this would allow a left turn on red. If a particular junction layout is not suitable, then it can be disallowed by use of a simple "no left turn on red" sign.

I hope we can get rid of some of the more pointless speed humps. I would also like to see the 20 limits gone, because they are pointless, which is why almost everyone ignores them.

It would be a silver lining to the diesel cloud if councils were encouraged to prioritise traffic flows, which has the potential to reduce local air pollution. The problem is most city councils are anti-car, and like to make it frustrating and expensive to drive or park.

17 May 2017
It is just an excuse to control things and fine people. Sound cynical? Our "smart" motorways are almost bizarre in the control of speed limits. Midnight the other night on the M42, light traffic and a 50mph enforced limit on the "smart" motorway. M25 the same - 60mph at 2am the other day and the Newport section of the M4 seems to be perma 50mph.

Heaven only knows what will happen if MK is made smart.

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