Recently, Iteris announced the development of a new AI-powered sensor system that can detect, monitor, and manage traffic. What challenges do growing cities face, what does the system provided by Iteris offer, and what problems can integrated smart systems face?

 By Robin Mitchell

What challenges do growing cities face?

As the world population grows, so does the demand for transportation services, whether it be increased use in buses, taxis, or privately owned vehicles. While the current climate crisis is changing how vehicles are made and what sources of energy they use, it has little impact on the increasing number of vehicles. Using public transport may be better for the environment, but poor availability and inconvenience leads many to privately own vehicles.

Most roads around the world were laid during a time of significantly fewer vehicles, and these roads may have been designed with a few decades of vehicle growth in mind. If the demand on a road increases to the point where traffic starts to build up, it is often impossible to widen the road and add lanes as roads often have buildings on either side.

This leads us to a new challenge where modern road networks are quickly becoming congested. Congested traffic is not only bad for waiting times, but it also results in increased emissions from vehicles and can increase the chances of collisions and accidents.

For traffic management to improve, smart cities will need to be introduced, which involve the placement of sensors and smart technologies that allow computers to take over control in real-time. Simply put, a smart city would recognise key areas of congestion and then redirect traffic to improve safety while reducing waiting times. Furthermore, a smart city would be able to more efficiently control signals at traffic lights to prevent severe congestion forming while making better decisions on when to let pedestrian’s crossroads.

Iteris releases its latest AI-powered sensor for traffic management

Recently, Iteris announced the release of their latest AI-powered sensor, called Vantage Apex, designed to add intelligent control to traffic monitoring systems.

The new sensor platform utilises true 1080 vision in real-time that is crisp and clear, allowing for high-quality remote traffic monitoring. The Vantage Apex sensor system also integrates RADAR giving the sensor platform a maximum measuring range of 600 feet, and utilises forward-fire RADAR technology, which helps eliminate occlusion.

The software side of the Vantage Apex integrates an AI machine learning platform that enables it to recognise a variety of different objects, including cars, pedestrians, and trucks. Using the in-built GPU/CPU based processing system, the Vantage Apex can further identify vulnerable situations, including potential collisions, lane diverging, and traffic violations.

Traffic monitoring can be done via a direct connection to the camera stream or the Iteris Video Viewer app. Furthermore, the Vantage Apex can operate with a vehicle to everything (V2X) via BlueTOAD Spectra CV.

What challenges will smart cities present?

There is no doubt that a city that constantly monitors traffic with AI could be a safer place to live. Cars that run red lights could be reported instantly, pedestrians could be warned of oncoming traffic, and automated control systems could prevent accidents.

However, the use of mass surveillance would mean that privacy on the road would be effectively destroyed. It would not be complicated for a vision system to automatically read number plates and then store them in a database. From there, an individual’s users journey could be formed, and this data would then be available to the authorities on demand.

Some would say that having a journey monitored is not bad; some insurance companies can do this via tracking devices in exchange for lower rates. However, privacy is an aspect of life that often goes unnoticed in its importance. The loss of privacy and data protection has been driving legislation such as GDPR.

Overall, the use of smart cameras to monitor traffic and make decisions can provide many benefits. Still, its use must be done carefully as smart systems can easily be used for more malicious purposes.