The Starling (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) project was commissioned by insurance company Direct Line and brought to fruition by design company Umbrellium. The two cameras are able to record hundreds of different variables, monitor the 22-metre crossing and, if they detect a pedestrian, are able to feed the information to the computer system in less than a hundredth of a second.
The Starling Crossing is aimed at putting people first, using LEDs to paint the road with markings that guide pedestrians safely across the road while also telling drivers and cyclists when to slow down, stop and go.
It uses familiar road markings and colours, but reacts in real time to different conditions, and can adapt accordingly.
As least in theory, the technology is able to modify the patterns, layout, configuration, size and orientation of pedestrian crossings to help bolster safety.
Based on studies from the Transport Research Laboratory, the team developed a full-scale prototype which was capable of supporting vehicle weight and was non-slip even in heavy rain. And if a lot of people are waiting to cross the road, it can widen to accommodate everyone.
The design of zebra crossings have stayed static for many years and this prototype comes at an important time for road safety with the most recent data suggesting an average of 20 potentially risky incidents occur at crossings each day in the UK.
"We're trying to update it 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". "We look forward to seeing the results of this trial and hope smart crossings will be rolled out in towns and cities across the country".
"It's created to look like a real crossing we have now, the special thing about it is that it can be configured in real time for any situation". At the time of writing, there are no plans to do so.
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