London will test smart crossing system to keep pedestrians safe

Sure, pedestrian detection tech for cars is already in the works, but the city of London wants to keep people even safer by equipping its crossings with a bunch of sensors and devices. London Mayor Boris Johnson just announced that the city will try out a smart crossing system, which he claims has never been tested anywhere in the world before. It uses cameras mounted on traffic lights to detect if pedestrians are piling up, and it automatically adjusts signals to give large crowds longer time to cross the road. In the future, the reverse might also be true: the city's transportation agency plans to tweak it so that lights change more quickly when everyone's safely on the other side.

If the concept sounds familiar, it's because it was inspired by London's SCOOT system (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique), which automatically changes signals, depending on traffic flow. Unlike SCOOT that's already active in 3,000 locations, though, this one's in its early stages. In fact, pilot testing's only slated to begin this summer outside Balham and Tooting Bec Tube stations, though more locations (along with cyclist detection) will follow if it ends up a success. Considering pedestrian accidents happen everywhere (in 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed in the US), we hope the system makes its way to other countries in the future.

[Image credit: Daniel X. O'Neil]