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Tech Optimizes Traffic Lights And Reduces Emissions

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Google’s Green Light initiative uses AI and Google Maps to make intersections better for drivers, pedestrians and the planet.

Traffic lights

Wouldn't it be great if there were fewer traffic jams and more green lights? As we know, road transportation accounts for a hefty chunk of global and urban greenhouse gas emissions, and the situation is worse at city intersections, where pollution can be 29 times higher than on open roads. That's primarily because frequent stopping and starting consumes more fuel and emits more carbon dioxide.

Google is now on a mission to use artificial intelligence to optimize traffic lights in order to free up traffic and reduce these emissions. Green Light is a Google Research initiative that aims to make traffic lights smarter and greener. It's currently being trialled at 70 intersections in 12 cities around the world.

Green Light uses AI and Google Maps driving trends to model traffic patterns and make recommendations for improving the existing traffic light plans. City engineers can implement these recommendations using existing infrastructure in as little as five minutes.

The critical innovation of Green Light is that it does not optimize just one intersection but coordinates across several adjacent intersections to create waves of green lights. This way, cities can improve traffic flow and further reduce harmful stop-and-go emissions.

Google says that early numbers indicate a potential for up to 30 percent reduction in stops and up to 10 percent reduction in emissions at intersections.


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