Michigan Fighting Traffic With Smart Traffic Systems

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【Summary】Ann Arbor, MI, plans to fight traffic in the city by turning towards intelligent traffic systems.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 16, 2017 11:30 AM PT
Michigan Fighting Traffic With Smart Traffic Systems

Detroit, MI is quickly becoming one of the few locations in the United States that companies and automakers are looking towards as an alternative to Silicon Valley, CA for self-driving cars. Uber, for example, recently opened a driverless car research center in the city, while Google expanded its presence in the city with a self-driving vehicle tech center last year, as well. 

Smarter Lights, Less Traffic

Companies may be making big moves in Detroit when it comes to driverless cars, but Michigan, as a whole, is moving towards becoming a technological powerhouse. Ann Arbor, MI, which is one of the states busiest cities in terms of vehicle traffic, will be getting intelligent traffic systems to help reduce some of the congestion that's been plaguing its roads, reports Wired

Intelligent traffic systems aren't out of left field, as Wired reports that more than 100 cites, which includes Toronto, London, and Santiago, all use the same program that Ann Arbor will get. And if the system works in Ann Arbor, it could spread to the rest of the U.S., decreasing traffic around the country. 

The majority of traffic lights in the U.S. run on the same ancient premise, Wired points out. The standard traffic light observes traffic patterns every couple of hours and then assumes what drivers need. Cities leave standard traffic lights alone for numerous years without any updates. Advanced traffic systems are capable of sensing if a vehicle has stopped at a light and are capable of turning a light green to ensure that the driver isn't waiting too long. 

Ann Arbor's intelligent system is one of the most advanced ones on the market and, as the outlet points out, knows how many vehicles have stopped in front of a light, which lane the cars are in, and the number of cars that are continuing to come down the road. 

Does The System Work?

The city received an early version of the intelligent traffic system approximately 10 years ago, claims Wired, but the city's engineers have continued to change the system's algorithms and inputs to ensure that it continues to reduce traffic. And the system works. As the outlet reports, it has reduced weekday travel times in affected streets by 12 percent and weekend travel times by 21 percent. 

As Wired reports, the system uses sensors that are embedded into the pavement or cameras to see how many cars are being held up by a red light. A signal is then sent through fiber network to the city's traffic management base, where the Big Computer is stored, which collects and stores the information. 

Ann Arbor isn't going to stop with a set of fancy traffic lights, either. The advanced system is, according to the report, a part of a larger goal to by the city to have connected cars. The plan eventually leads to cars that can talk to one another, traffic lights that communicate with each other, and vehicles that can talk to traffic lights.

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