Artificial intelligence to reduce congestion and improve cyclist safety

Advanced technological solutions are to be trialled on the streets of the West Midlands in an effort to use 5G to improve traffic and rail efficiency.

Seven innovative transportation projects involving advanced technologies are to be deployed on the streets of the West Midlands in an effort to reduce congestion, improve cyclist safety, identify potholes and much more.

West Midlands 5G Limited (WM5G), a multi-million-pound collaboration between the devolved and national governments, are investing £2.4 million to improve local road and rail operational efficiency.

Among the projects is a new traffic management solution in which live data is transferred in real-time and digested by an artificial intelligence model which uses the data, combined with historic events, to create scenarios.

The scenarios can be used to better manage traffic incidents and congestions, resulting in faster commutes.

Another uses LIDAR sensors to form a live map used to monitor road and rail infrastructure. The map can provide live on-street parking information, identify the exact location of potholes and improve cyclist safety.

A predictive parking system that uses 5G-enabled kerbside imaging to reduce the amount of time spent finding a parking space is also being trialled.

It is thought this could reduce the estimated £373 million spent each year in wasted time, fuel and emissions caused by drivers searching for a place to park.

One of the projects aims to use 5G technology to allow more visually impaired people to travel on public transport independently.

A large number of organisations are working together on the seven projects, including the University of Warwick, O2 and National Express.

Chris Lane, from Transport for West Midlands, explained that 5G forms a “key part” of the region’s “ambitious transport plans”.

“The outcome of these trials will make a significant difference and have national relevance”, he said, continuing that the projects reinforce the West Midlands’ reputation as “the UK’s number one location for both 5G and transport innovation.”

A second round of funding is available for similar 5G-enabled road and rail projects, with up to £2.5 million more available to businesses. Find out more: apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/717/overview.