21st century ‘smart crossing’ lights up the streets

An innovative pedestrian crossing which “responds in real time” has been showcased in London.

LED lighting in the smart crossing’s surface means it can illuminate and widen depending on scenarios detected by cameras – alerting drivers to the movements of distracted pedestrians about to cross.

If someone walks out into the road unexpectedly, a thick red line lights up the road – while the size of the crossing can also increase to accommodate larger volumes of crossers.

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The hi-tech crossings are the brainchild of London-based tech firm Umbrellium, which has launched its new concept near Mitcham in the south of the capital.

Among its key aims are to update the humble crossing for the 21st century and combat the risk presented by pedestrian mobile phone distraction.

As well as widening the crossing when there are lots of people waiting to use it, it is also able to provide added warnings for cyclists when pedestrians are hidden by high-sided vehicles.

Figures from Road Safety Analysis and the Transport Research Laboratory suggest an average of 20 potentially dangerous incidents occur each day at UK crossings – so it’s little wonder an increasing number of tech firms are coming up with ground-breaking developments.

Earlier this year in Buckinghamshire new lifelike bollards introduced to improve road safety were not particularly well received, however, with some drivers calling them “creepy” and even potentially hazardous.

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Speaking to the Press Association, Umbrellium founding partner Usman Haque explained how the crossings we use today are 50 or 60 years old.

“We're trying to update for the 21st century with a crossing that deals with the fact that people are on mobile phones and they might not be looking up, vehicles might be coming more often, there might be pedestrians suddenly coming out at the end of a film needing to cross,” he added.

No analysis of the cost of such a scheme being installed on public roads has been carried out, but it can be “built and deployed right now”, Mr Haque confirmed.

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.