Smarter Vehicles Could Mean Big Changes for Traffic Lights

As cars and trucks get smarter and more connected, the humble lights that have controlled the flow of traffic for more than a century could also be on the cusp of a major transformation.

Researchers are exploring ways to use features in modern cars, such as GPS, to make traffic safer and more efficient. Eventually, the upgrades could do away entirely with the red, yellow and green lights of today, ceding control to driverless cars.

Henry Liu, a civil engineering professor who is leading a study through the University of Michigan, said the rollout of a new traffic signal system could be a lot closer than people realize.

“The pace of artificial intelligence progress is very fast, and I think it’s coming,” he said.

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