London trials a responsive pedestrian crossing
Annually there are over 7,000 incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles at pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom. In the south London suburb of Mitcham, technology is being trialled to make pedestrian crossings safer.
This responsive road infrastructure is called the Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing). It covers a 22 metre section of road, with LED lights under the road surface, and cameras monitoring the area.
Sponsored by UK insurance company Direct Line, the Starling Crossing was conceived by Umbrellium. It’s design philosophy was to:
“… put people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way. Key design principles include aiming to enhance people’s perceptual awareness without distracting them, and highlighting safety relationships between people and cars so they can make their own decisions, rather than telling them what to do.”
The lighting has been designed so as to be easily visible day and night. Cameras track and identify objects moving in the area, plots and anticipates the path of the objects,and sends instructions to the lighting system. All of this has incorporated research from the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory.
At a basic level, the lighting generates the ‘standard’ white stripes that signify a pedestrian crossing. If there’s a large group waiting to cross, the Starling Crossing increases the width to accommodate all the pedestrians.
If a pedestrian takes a non-standard direction, crabbing across rather than walking in a direct, straight line, or rushes onto the road, the crossing plots the pedestrian’s path and probable course using a red path of arrows. The system can also see if a pedestrian is distracted and wanders near the road surface, or if a child runs on to the road. The warning lights are visible to the pedestrian to hopefully focus their attention, and to alert nearby vehicles of the possible danger.