Artificial intelligence is slowly gaining control over more human infrastructure. This isn’t a recent thing, either. Google‘s Project Greenlight has been around for a couple of years already, starting as a pilot program at a few intersections in Israel. It’s about to expand to more countries.
About now, you’re probably asking yourself what Greenlight is all about (unless you’re great at inferring from context). The Google Research project uses artificial intelligence to monitor and alleviate congestion at intersections. This is achieved by letting computer systems autonomously alter the timing of traffic lights.
Given the Greenlight
Never mind that screwing with traffic light timing is a major feature of just about every modern techno-thriller, it’s also quite a practical idea. If the traffic load from one direction is causing congestion spikes elsewhere, it makes sense to get those vehicles out and on their way. The timing changes Google is after are more about keeping traffic flowing as much as possible, hence the name.
According to the company, by “…coordinating across several adjacent intersections to create waves of green lights, cities can improve traffic flow and further reduce stop-and-go emissions.” It has reported up to 10% drops in emissions and a 30% improvement in traffic flow from the regions where it has tested out this AI-assisted tweak. The next order of business is getting more countries involved.
Countries around the world already have Greenlight implemented (in places). The US, UK, Germany, and a range of East Asian countries are already participants. Twelve different cities are involved and more will be added in 2024. Google’s gone as far as to create a waiting list that you can sign up for but there are some terms and conditions. You have to be “responsible for managing traffic lights in your city/metro/state” and not just someone irritated because the traffic in your suburb sucks. Actually, that’s about it. If you happen to know a guy, though, maybe pass this info on.