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Always Get to Traffic Lights on Green via New System Tested in UK

By Stephen Turvil | July 15, 2018


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Competition money funds a new, revolutionary, idea that might make waiting at red traffic lights a thing of the past

Always Get to Traffic Lights on Green via New System Tested in UK

How Smart Traffic Light System works

The AECOM Smart Traffic Light System that reveals what speed to travel to reach the next light on green is to be tested in The United Kingdom, The Roads For The Future competition said. The purpose of the competition – of which this system is one of five finalists - is to develop ideas that make roads more suitable for:

  • Vehicles that are connected to the internet 
  • Vehicles that operate autonomously 

The Smart Traffic Light System might be easy to use from a motorist’s perspective. Note a theoretical example. There is a long, straight, road that has a series of lights and a car is passing the first. The system calculates that if the vehicle continues at thirty it can reach the next light whilst it is green.

This speed is easy to calculate as the lights follow a fixed, predictable, pattern. Furthermore, the speed is relayed to the vehicle via the internet. Perhaps a message appears on the dashboard for the driver. Perhaps, in contrast, such an obvious message is not needed if the car drives itself. Advantages include:

  • Less stop start traffic 
  • Quicker, more pleasant, journey 
  • Vehicle spends less time idling which saves fuel, minimises pollution and reduces running costs 
  • Vehicle has less wear to components such as the brakes 

The Roads For The Future Competition is run by The National Infrastructure Commission, Highways England and Innovate UK. AECOM – a big, multinational, engineering firm - has now received up to £30,000 to develop its Smart Traffic Light Concept. This requires it to make a replica, digital, copy of the A59 in Northern England.

AECOM Principal Consultant, Heather Hawkins, is delighted to be a competition finalist and to have the additional funding. “We are excited and eager to get started and better understand the potential impact of vehicle to infrastructure systems”, she stated.

Infrastructure expert says the roads have to evolve

Always Get to Traffic Lights on Green via New System Tested in Uk Image 0

Chairman of The National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, explained why the competition is important. He said: “We see progress in developing cars for the future.” He confirmed that self-driving models are being tested now, for instance. “We now need to make sure the technology on our roads keeps up”, he argued.

RAC praises concept

The RAC welcomed the concept too. Spokesperson Rod Dennis confirmed: "Stop start traffic is bad for lots of reasons. It causes drivers to use their brakes more - which causes wear - and to accelerate more which can increase emissions”. Constantly waiting at red lights is “enormously frustrating” too, Dennis said.

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