Smarter Traffic Lights, Calmer Commuters

NoTraffic measures approaching car, pedestrian, bike and public transit traffic using radar and video. The company claims nearly perfect detection of traffic in all weather and precise classification of type, including bicycles and pedestrians. An Optimization Engine — essentially a computer processor and supporting electronics — at each intersection gathers the data, applies algorithms and calculates hundreds of simulations per second to determine the best signal operation. The system can communicate with connected vehicle systems to warn drivers of potential problems, such as a car that is about to run a red light or an accident blocking the road.

The technology communicates with a central processor that gathers data from many other installations and applies algorithms. Thus, it learns how to deal with a vast number of situations.

In Maricopa County, in Arizona, NoTraffic claims to have achieved an average delay improvement of 54 percent. If the technology were put in place countywide, NoTraffic projects it would cumulatively eliminate 93,106 months of delays, reduce emissions by 531,929 tons and provide over $1.1 billion in economic benefits in a year.

Those are NoTraffic’s own numbers. Tom Cooper, a NoTraffic vice president, said the Maricopa County Department of Transportation had reviewed and approved the data.

Vladimir Livshits, director of transportation technologies for the Maricopa Association of Governments, which includes Phoenix, couldn’t confirm the data. He said a consortium of three local universities was evaluating the system and that he couldn’t provide results at this time. He did say that, over all, NoTraffic was highly promising technology.

While adaptive signal control systems, like SCATS, SCOOT and NoTraffic, are gaining acceptance in the United States, they are far from universally deployed. Part of the reason may be cost. According to the Intelligent Transportation Systems website of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the cost of SCATS and SCOOT technology is upward of $20,000 per intersection, with SCOOT being somewhat more expensive. However, those figures can vary widely if infrastructure changes, such as the development of a fiber-optic communication system, are necessary as well.

Mr. Cooper said he couldn’t pinpoint a price for NoTraffic installations but indicated that they could cost up to 70 percent less than other systems. He added that real-world numbers for all systems varied widely.

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