Scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology claim to have developed a "smart" traffic signal that helps motorists make better decisions and avoid collisions, especially at intersections that lack lights or signs altogether.
The alert system consists of two standard surveillance cameras, each mounted on a pole at an intersection.
faces the main road and the other faces the secondary road. As traffic approaches, the cameras record and send video to a computer at ground level.
An image processing software then discerns moving cars from the background and determines how fast the vehicles are travelling.
According to Discovery News, the software
automatically projects the cars’ trajectories and, based on their speed and direction, calculates the likelihood of a collision. If it identifies a risk, it triggers the red light to flash, signalling vehicles to stop.
Yotam Abramson, team leader for the Smart Junction project, said the uniqueness of this innovative system is that it flashes only when needed, compared to other system which either flash continuously or too frequently, ultimately forcing drivers to get accustomed to the lights so often that they begin to ignore them.
Abramson said statistics have also shown that traffic signals alone don’t reduce the number of accidents at intersections.
"Statistics show that the chance of an accident in a signalized intersection is no lower than in a non-signalized one. Also, traffic signals delay traffic on major roads. In fact, with traffic lights at all intersections, it takes a person five to 10 times as much time to travel from point A to point B," he said.
"Most of this time will be wasted on standing in front of a redundant red signal, where no traffic exists on the other road," he added.
Currently, Abramson and his team are evaluating the smart signal at a four-way urban intersection in Tel Aviv by measuring the number of "almost accidents" with and without the device.