CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Google is now using artificial technology to improve traffic flow.
It’s an inevitable stop on the route to your destination that can provoke emotions.
“Honestly, I am so impatient that I know that I am cursing,” said one Charlotte man of his commute. “These lights a lot of times, like what is wrong with these lights.”
Red lights across the Queen City are clogging up traffic and wasting gas. But for some, it’s a moment to unwind.
“I mean I just be chillin’, thinking about life you know. Take my timeout,” Marcus McCloud said.
According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, on average, drivers spend about 75 seconds at a signaled intersection, taking up 20 percent of their commute.
“Historically, for many city traffic engineers, it can be really difficult and expensive for them to get realizable data for traffic light optimization,” explained Hannah Hunt, spokesperson for Google’s Green Light Project.
Over the last three years, Google has been developing the Green Light Project. It uses machine learning and Google Maps driving trends to analyze thousands of traffic patterns simultaneously.
“We then take that to develop insights, provide them to city engineers for free to implement at their intersections and improve traffic patterns,” Hunt said.
Google says this isn’t just a win-win for drivers – but also the environment. According to the company, pollution can be nearly 30 times higher at city intersections compared to open roads.
Their program is estimated to reduce greenhouse ass emissions by 10 percent.
Currently, 12 cities are using the Green Light Project. Seattle is the only city in the U.S. partaking in the program.
Queen City News reached out to the Charlotte Department of Transportation about the program.
A spokesperson says the city uses the Advanced Transportation Management System, which monitors traffic signals that are capable of communicating back to the central system. They provided the following statement, says the technology isn’t “anything new.”
NCDOT has not used this product, but it appears to use probe data from Google Maps. There are some competitors we are aware of that have systems like this so this isn’t anything new. Their website states it’s in the “early research phase” and they’re offering it to partner cities at no cost. We would get more data from our ATSPM solution than we would from anything based on probe data such as this.
City of Charlotte