Streets create safe crossings for pedestrians using smart road lights

They're even designed to catch the attention of people who are distracted by their phones 

Aatif Sulleyman
Monday 09 October 2017 17:15
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LED pedestrian crossing trialled in London to aid the safe crossing of mobile phone users

A high-tech pedestrian crossing that monitors and reacts to cars, people and cyclists has been developed.

The Starling (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING) Crossing, created by Umbrellium, is designed to make roads safer for pedestrians.

The road surface at the crossing is embedded with LEDs that are bright enough to attract the attention and “fill their field of vision” of pedestrians that might be distracted by their smartphone, the company says.

These lights are controlled by a computer system, which also analyses footage from cameras that constantly monitor the crossing.

Umbrellium says the surface of the crossing will remain slip-free even in heavy rain, and the LEDs are bright enough to be seen clearly during the day, as well as at night.

“Using a neural network framework, cameras track objects that are moving across the road surface, distinguishing between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, calculating their precise locations, trajectories and velocities and anticipating where they may move to in the next moment,” says Umbrellium.

The LEDs change depending on the situation, completely transforming the road in the process.

If a pedestrian rushes into the street “but is in a cyclist’s or driver’s blindspot”, they’ll light up to draw their attention to the hidden danger.

Similarly, if someone runs into the street unexpectedly, the lights will form a “large buffer zone” to “make their trajectory clear” to drivers and cyclists.

If a pedestrian is distracted and walks dangerously close to the road when a car is approaching, warning lights will flash.

When there aren’t many pedestrians around, such as in the early morning, the Starling Crossing may only appear when someone approaches, in order to avoid causing unnecessary disruption to traffic.

When there are lots of pedestrians around, however, it could widen to allow more people to cross safely at the same time.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way, says Umbrellium, which set up a temporary Starling Crossing at a TV studio in South West London.

“Key design principles include aiming to enhance people’s perceptual awareness without distracting them, and highlighting safety relationships between people and cars so they can make their own decisions, rather than telling them what to do.”

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