‘Thinking’ traffic lights to be launched in Milton Keynes

A lorry and a car collided on Danes Camp Way at around 1pm, causing delays in the eastbound direction.
A lorry and a car collided on Danes Camp Way at around 1pm, causing delays in the eastbound direction.

More than 2,500 traffic lights are to be installed all over MK to make rush hour jams a thing of the past.

The £3m worth of lights will be in place by September next year, putting Milton Keynes on the map as the first place in the UK to use the cutting-edge technology.

Currently traffic lights work in sequences, but ‘smart’ lights use artificial intelligence to assess where there is heavy traffic and adjust their pattern accordingly.

Fitted with tiny cameras, they will automatically give priority to ambulances, buses and even cyclists. They will also make roads safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.

The new system has been developed by a company called Vivacity Labs, and has already won funding from the government’s start-up arm Innovate UK.

It is part of a national trend towards ‘smart cities’, which use intelligence and sensors to control everything from waste management to water use.

Milton Keynes, with its driverless cars and high tech reputation, has always been ahead of the game in the smart city stakes.

The smart traffic lights will even be able to “communicate” with driverless cars in the future, said the chief technology officer at Vivacity Labs, Yang Lu.

“The AI camera accurately identifies and reports road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error,” he said.

The lights will also make roads safer for pedestrians and drivers by alerting vehicles of potential hazards nearby.

They will even direct traffic away from congestion to prevent further traffic jams.