Portland tests smart traffic signals in trailblazing effort to put the brakes on congestion

Surtrac was developed by Rapid Flow Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based company that emerged from Carnegie Mellon University, where Professor Stephen Smith and his students first tested the technology back in 2012. Rapid Flow Technologies opened in 2015 to market Surtrac technology to U.S. cities. Smith remains a professor at Carnegie Mellon and also is a chief scientist for Rapid Flow.

In an interview, Smith said the technology was tested successfully at nine intersections in Pittsburgh and now is used at 41 more intersections, with more likely to be added. Atlanta also has adopted the smart traffic signals and now has 24 intersections using the technology. Smith said travel time is reduced by an average of 25 percent and the amount of time spent idling in traffic or at a red light decreased by 40 percent.

“Our technology focuses more on the complex problem of urban areas,” he said, “where the dominant flow of traffic is likely to change throughout the day.”