Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Talking Traffic Light Which Will Be Trialled on Our Streets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Talking Traffic Light Which Will Be Trialled on Our Streets

Article excerpt

Byline: Hugh MacKnight Reporter

REVOLUTIONARY new technology which allows traffic lights to 'talk' directly to motorists is being rolled out across Newcastle.

In the first pilot of its kind in the UK, the communication system is also able to warn drivers of obstacles on the road, give ambulances priority at lights and allow drivers to adjust their speed so they can pass through a series of green lights.

The aim of the new system is to improve safety and reduce congestion and pollution by helping motorists to drive more efficiently.

Linking a driver's communication system directly with the city's Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) centre, the technology will 'talk' directly to motorists, giving certain vehicles priority at junctions.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is currently piloting the technology to see if it can create a smoother journey for patients while at the same time, helping to cut the trust's fuel bills.

Led by Newcastle University in collaboration with Newcastle City Council, Siemens and the NEAS, the system has initially been fitted to non-emergency Patient Transport Service (PTS) vehicles based at the Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

Phil Blythe, Newcastle University's Professor of Transport, said: "Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what's unique about this trial is that we will be giving personalised information directly to the driver.

"For example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.

"In more congested areas or particularly busy times of the day, then vehicles on key roads might be given priority in order to keep the traffic flowing.

"These are exciting times in the world of transport and here in Newcastle we are leading the way - taking the first step towards a fully automated system with intelligent infrastructure and, eventually, driverless cars."

It is hoped the system will play a key role in turning Newcastle into a "smart city of the future". …

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