Innovate UK has awarded the University of Huddersfield £850,000 (~€937,000) to test a new artificial intelligence (AI) system in Manchester designed to combat congestion and pollution.
Able to carry out data analysis and to devise complex strategies in a fraction of the time required by human operators, the traffic management system – named ‘SimplifAI’ – will optimise timings at traffic signals in order to achieve the best possible flow, especially after unusual or unforeseen events have created congestion.
Motorists queuing at the Old Trafford car parks on match days could be among the beneficiaries.
There will then be scope for SimplifAI to be marketed globally, as a smart city solution to improving reliability of transport networks.
A consortium has been formed to carry out the deployment of SimplifAI and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is providing the testing ground. The commercial lead is the research and development consultancy KAM Futures.
Professor Lee McCluskey explained that the University of Huddersfield, KAM Futures and the other partners had earlier earned an Innovate UK feasibility study grant in order to show how AI could be used to control and manage traffic, in order to lessen congestion and improve air quality, especially in emergency or unusual conditions.
“Under normal conditions, existing traffic management and traffic signals are not too bad,” said McCluskey.
“Artificial Intelligence is providing a tool for transport operators so they can deal with extremely complicated situations more quickly. In just a few seconds it can produce strategies composed of hundreds of different timings at traffic signals.”
The technical development of the system has been carried out by McCluskey and lecturer Dr Mauro Vallati at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Computing and Engineering.