A smart AI-based traffic lights system which monitors road congestion is set to launch in the UK, with the city of Milton Keynes investing £3 million in the technology.

The scheme will see 2,500 cameras rolled out across the city in a bid to prevent traffic bottlenecks by giving priority to emergency vehicles, public transport and cyclists.

While current traffic light systems rely on sequencing, the new technology, developed by Vivacity Labs, proposes a new approach using artificial intelligence. The smart computing model is able to detect heavy traffic and adjust the lighting patterns accordingly.

For example, if the cameras detect a larger number of buses or cyclists it will give out a longer green light signal than normal. If no cars are waiting at a turn, the system can also skip the turn phase in the light cycle.

According to Vivacity Labs, the trial should be in place by September next year and will cover a 50 square mile area.

‘The AI camera accurately identifies and reports road usage, removing the need for cumbersome manual interpretation and significantly reducing the potential for human error,’ said Yang Lu, CTO at Vivacity Labs.

‘It can improve traffic today as it can be linked with existing management systems to keep vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, safe by giving priority at lights, or alter signs to direct traffic away from congestion,’ he added.

If the trial is successful in Milton Keynes, Mark Nicholson, Vivacity Labs’ CEO, suggested that the scheme could be rolled out in the capital with Transport for London (TfL).

He noted: ‘We’re seeing more and more congestion on our roads, and this technology is a way of encouraging more people to use bicycles and buses instead of clogging up the roads.’

Nicholson added that the AI system would also help to give local councils more control of their transport systems.