Urban emissions, a significant chunk of which stems from road transportation, pose a severe environmental threat. City intersections are hotspots where pollution levels can skyrocket to be 29 times higher than on open roads. The frequent starts and stops at traffic signals substantially contribute to these emissions.
In an era where climate change is a pressing concern, Google’s Project Green Light paves the way for a greener future by using AI to reduce urban greenhouse emissions.
Project Green Light: An Overview
Project Green Light, a brainchild of Google Research, utilizes AI with Google Maps’ driving trends to understand traffic patterns and suggest improvements for the existing traffic light configurations. Implementing these suggestions takes city engineers about five minutes to use the current infrastructure. The project aims to enhance not just single intersections but several adjoining ones by creating ‘waves of green lights,’ thereby improving traffic flow and substantially reducing stop-and-go emissions.
Early results from Project Green Light indicate a potential to decrease stops by up to 30% and emissions at intersections by up to 10%. The project is already functional at 70 meetings across 12 cities worldwide, potentially reducing monthly emissions for up to 30 million car rides.
AI: The Driving Force Behind Traffic Light Optimization
For many city traffic engineers, procuring reliable data for traffic light optimization takes time and effort. As a result, many traffic signals operate on outdated configurations. Google Research teams, however, have been studying the application of AI and driving trends from Google Maps to model intersections and traffic flow. They develop an AI-based model for each meeting, capturing its layout, traffic patterns, light scheduling, and the interaction between traffic and light schedules. Based on these models, they devise AI-powered optimizations and offer recommendations to city engineers via the Green Light interface.
Project Green Light can analyze thousands of intersections simultaneously, enhancing the flow through multiple intersections in the city. These AI-based suggestions are compatible with existing infrastructure and traffic systems, allowing city engineers to monitor the impact and observe results within weeks.
Project Green Light: Global Impact and Future Plans
By partnering with cities worldwide, Project Green Light aims to benefit people and the planet. The technology has shown promising results in towns like Seattle and Hamburg and holds even more significant potential for cities lacking access to advanced technology. Google is working closely with partner cities to scale to more intersections in each town and plans to expand to more locations next year, enabling people across the globe to experience cleaner, greener cities.
City representatives or traffic engineers interested in learning about Project Green Light can visit their website and join the waiting list.