Cure for road rage? Finland green lights smart traffic controls

Pointless dillydallying behind red lights could be a thing of the past in Helsinki as the city trials smart cameras to improve traffic flow.

Created by Marshall AI and Dynniq Finland Oy, these cameras will be placed at several intersections in the Finnish capital to monitor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians using ‘machine vision’.

Connected traffic lights will respond to whatever conditions the cameras detect in an attempt to remove ‘dead seconds’ that road users spend waiting for lights to change.

Though alleviating road rage might be a useful side effect, the real goal of the Helsinki trial is to drive down traffic emissions by 3-8%.

The trial is part of an EU-funded project called AI4Cities, which looks for ways to cut emissions across Europe. Other projects are underway in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Greater Paris, Stavanger and Tallinn.

Marcus Nordström, CEO of Marshall AI, said: “The majority of urban traffic emissions are generated when vehicles stop and accelerate at intersections.

“The solution developed by the AI4Cities project will significantly reduce these emissions without negative impacts on any traffic user groups.”

Helsinki has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2030. In its 2021-2025 strategy, the city highlighted its intention to cut traffic emissions in order to reach its target. About a fifth of Helsinki’s emissions come from traffic, the city has said.

Helsinki’s building energy trials

Energy-efficient buildings are another priority for the city, with heating accounting for more than half of Helsinki’s emissions.

Responding to that need, AI4Cities is also conducting a pilot on optimising, planning and scheduling energy consumption in buildings in the city.

The Building Energy Efficiency consortium (BEE) will automate energy consumption at several buildings, including the Helsinki Vocational College and a primary school in the Kaisaniemi neighbourhood.

The objective is to activate the buildings’ heating and ventilation systems at times when the most renewable energy is available. When the buildings are empty, they will be turned off.

Through automation, BEE hopes to cut consumption and emissions by about 15%.

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