AI traffic light system could make traffic jams just a memory.

The system, uses deep learning (see concept in our library/artificial intelligence – Computer vision/Some Concepts), reads live camera footage and adapts the lights to compensate, keeping the traffic flowing and reducing congestion.

In testing, the system significantly outperformed all other methods, which typically rely on manually-designed phase transitions.

Because the AI "sees" high traffic volume before the cars have gone through the lights and makes its decision then, it is more responsive and can react more quickly.

The program can be set up to view any traffic junction—real or simulated—and will start learning autonomously. The reward system can be manipulated, for example to encourage the program to let emergency vehicles through quickly. But the program always teaches itself, rather than being programmed with specific instructions.

The researchers hope to begin testing their system on real roads this year.