New traffic lights use cameras to detect when pedestrians will cross the road

Traffic lights around the world are pretty much the same in most places. The lights often have buttons that pedestrians can press when they want to cross the road. A new traffic light system recognizes when pedestrians intend to cross the road and automatically changes to green.The goal is to reduce unpleasant waiting times and to improve the flow of traffic. With lights that have push buttons and long wait times, pedestrians often get tired of waiting and walk across the intersection on a red light, slowing traffic as drivers have to slow for them. The camera system also allows the green phase to be extended for large groups of pedestrians automatically to give them time to make it across the road.

The new cameras have a video field of coverage of eight by five meters, more significant than the two by three meters of industry-standard solutions. The system sees when pedestrians intend to cross the road and switches to green automatically and is expected to replace the push button system common today.

When pedestrians are detected, the motorist traffic lights don't switch to green and eliminate wait times for drivers as they don't have to sit and wait for pedestrians to clear the intersection on their green light. The cameras need one-second to estimate the intention to cross the road, and after two seconds, estimation is reliable.

The image analyzing is all performed in the camera. The team says that those worried about data protection will be glad to hear the imagery data is processed locally; the image data is required for the system to work. The next step is to replace push-button lights with the new camera system at selected locations by 2020 for evaluation purposes.