Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has partnered with Vivacity Labs to roll out AI-controlled smart traffic junctions to help boost active travel in the region.
The news comes after the initiative was declared winner of the Innovative Use of Technology award at the 2020 Intelligent Transport Systems, ITS (UK) Awards last week.
Using sensors with inbuilt artificial intelligence, Vivacity enables TfGM to anonymously identify different types of road users at selected junctions and control traffic signals to allow different modes of transportation to be prioritised as and when required.
With more cyclists on the road as people avoid public transport, these ‘smart junctions’ will be able to give priority to people on foot or bike where and when appropriate.
Vivacity Labs’ AI signal control system first went live early this year, before scaling to simultaneously control three, neighbouring junctions in the Blackfriars area of Salford in September 2020.
This initiative also has the potential to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the Greater Manchester area.
Congestion and queuing can be reduced by traffic signals that respond better and more quickly to changes in traffic conditions than existing systems.
This comes as part of a three-year Innovate UK co-funded programme (alongside Immense Simulations) to use AI to optimise traffic networks.
The project has secured additional investment to expand throughout the trial region through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport’s ‘5G Create fund’ which was announced in July 2020.
The project will scale up to an area of 20 junctions in Manchester by the end of 2021 and aims to demonstrate impact in the real world in the form of improved journey quality for all road users in this region.
Richard Dolphin, TfGM highways network performance manager, said: “Having already developed an innovative product in terms of their sensing technology, Vivacity has become well-versed in the relevant standards and have made impressive strides in the continuing development of their Smart Junctions system.
“We’ve been really impressed with how Vivacity has approached this, assessing current ways of working and addressing the complexities of managing a multi-modal transport network.
“Hopefully, this development will continue into something that will positively disrupt the industry and revolutionise active travel in urban areas.”