The continent’s very first ‘smart’ traffic lights will be piloted in the sleepy university town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. These traffic lights will make use of an algorithm and electromagnetic loops, and have been implemented in countries with extreme traffic congestion, such as India.
Since its implementation, India’s travel time on roads has been reduced by 26%. Queuing in traffic was also reduced by 37%.
The algorithm will be applied to eight intersections on the busiest stretch of the R44, which is the main transport route that runs in and out of Stellenbosch.
Dr Johann Andersen, who is the Head of the University of Stellenbosch’s Civil Engineering Department, said that the project will make use of a combination of new cameras at intersections, as well as existing electromagnetic loops beneath the roads.
“This data is then fed into the system, which will automatically adjust the traffic signals to get the traffic moving optimally, based on an algorithm,” Andersen said. “What makes this different from existing systems is that human intervention will be minimised.”
The algorithm was developed by a master’s student named Wilko Mohr, who said that the project could very well provide significant changes to congestion in developing countries.
“With a problem such as traffic congestion, a ‘hard engineering’ solution would be to build more roads, but ‘soft engineering’ could potentially have the same impact, only much faster and more affordably,” Mohr said.