Signals along ‘Smart Spines’ optimize traffic flow

By revamping close to 150 city intersections with adaptive signaling technology, Pittsburgh plans to improve traffic flow and decrease idling times for city buses.

The initiative will incorporate technology from Rapid Flow Technologies’ Scalable Urban Traffic Control program (Surtrac), an artificially intelligent adaptive signal control system first deployed in 2012, into eight high-priority traffic corridors, or “Smart Spines,” throughout Pittsburgh.

Surtrac uses cameras, sensors and radar technology to first capture real-time traffic conditions at each intersection. With that data, it creates an optimization plan for moving traffic through the intersection, which it then sends to the signal controllers in a specific intersection, to nearby signals and to connected vehicles.

“The original application was to decrease congestion and idling time in the neighborhood of East Liberty” where a number of redevelopment projects were already in progress, said Stan Caldwell, executive director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute.