How AI traffic lights improve traffic flow

How AI traffic lights improve traffic flow

We have already reported on the theory and field tests of how AI could optimize road traffic. Now, in Hamm, Westphalia, a traffic light has gone into operation that is entirely controlled by AI. This is a first in Germany, although partial applications already exist in Munich.


Multiple projects for better regulation  

Numerous projects aim for better traffic flow regulation, as reported for example by The Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies,and Image Exploitation (IOSB) is working on a system in which machine learning is used to optimize the flow of traffic at intersections. As we move toward autonomous cars, efforts are being made to network vehicles with traffic light systems. In Munich, traffic lights have recently begun communicating with cars at 22 intersections. Here, drivers are informed about the speed they need to maintain to pass through an intersection when the light turns green.


Advancements in London and Hamm  

In London, pedestrian lights are set to green by default and only turn red when a vehicle approaches. In Hamm, technology from Munich-based company Yunex, formerly a division of Siemens Mobility, is now in use. In its 'awareAI' system, video cameras are utilized, and the images are evaluated by algorithms. Seven cameras have been installed at the intersection for this purpose. These cameras film diagonally across the streets, also capturing bike lanes and sidewalks.

Data protection and adaptability  

The system recognizes a cyclist 70 meters before the intersection and takes this into account in its calculations for the green light duration. AI can also determine if individual pedestrians or entire groups, such as school classes, are approaching, says Christian Breßler, the head of traffic technology and control in the Civil Engineering and Green Spaces Department of the city of Hamm. Accordingly, the green phase is extended so that the entire group can cross the street. Road users are only recorded for a short time for the control system; nothing is stored, and data protection is guaranteed.

Thanks to these advancements, AI promises to bring significant improvements to urban traffic management, making travel safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.