Traffic intersections: A practical example of smart cities

“Booooooring!”, I hear you say. Intersections! But have you seen this simulation by researchers at UT Austin? It shows, rather impressively, what the traffic intersection of the future may look like. After we had seen this video and recovered from our initial shock, we wanted to find out more about “next generation intersections”. As always, we used Mergeflow for our research.

Here are some of the things we found:

Research and development

Savari, for example, is a company that received federal R&D funding in the US, via the SBIR funding program. The goal of Savari’s research project was to develop a smartphone app that helps improve pedestrian safety at intersections.

Another research project, awarded by NSF to Domitilla Del Vecchio’s group at MIT, aimed to develop theories, computational models, and prototypes “for next generation driver-assist systems that ensure safety and fuel efficiency at traffic intersections”.


Yes, Google does intersections too. They have three patents explicitly related to traffic intersections:Since Mergeflow gave us the inventor names, we looked them up to see where they are now:

Technology blogs and news

Pittsburgh builds smart traffic signals

Carnegie Mellon University has worked with the City of Pittsburgh and East Liberty Development Inc. to deploy the technology for a network of traffic lights. Stephen Smith, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, is developing smart artificial-intelligence-fueled traffic signals that adapt to changing traffic conditions instantly. According to Smith, in the United States, traffic congestion costs the economy $121 billion a year, and produces about 25 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. You can read the full article here.

Siemens invests in connected vehicle tech in Columbus, Ohio

In May 2017, Siemens invested $385k to help Columbus reach the goal as the first US city to fully integrate self-driving electric vehicles, smart grids, smart streetlights, and collision avoidance sensors as part of its transportation system. The investment in advanced hardware and software will allow vehicles to communicate with traffic lights. Results should be an improvement in pedestrian safety, and congestion and emissions reduction. The full article is here.

So… still think that traffic intersections are boring?