Going Nowhere Fast? Smart Traffic Lights Can Help Ease Gridlock

Smith, a faculty member at CMU’s Robotics Institute who studies the use of artificial intelligence to coordinate large systems in transportation, manufacturing and other fields, developed traffic signals equipped with individual computers and software with AI capabilities, which can use cameras, radar or inductive loop detectors in the pavement to spot approaching vehicles and adjust their timing…

Since then, Smith’s company, Rapid Flow Technologies, has installed its Surtrac smart traffic management technology in 22 North American cities.

Unlike some other smart traffic systems, which update the timing of lights every few minutes based on recent traffic, “We generate the timing plans in real time,” Smith explains. “So, we watch the traffic that’s approaching the intersection. And then in real time, we generate a signal timing plan for moving that traffic through the intersection. So, we’re actually scheduling the actual traffic on the road.”