Boss Town Traffic With A Machine Vision System

Jon Lawson

A trial is underway in Carmel, Indiana to discover if a machine vision system originally designed to improve EV quality can speed up the traffic

Volkswagen Group of America is embarking on an interesting research project that harnesses city cameras and Volkswagen’s own machine vision software to help optimise traffic flows, analyse street usage patterns and even support emergency response vehicles. It’s a joint effort with the authorities at the City of Carmel in Indiana, where the trial will take place.

Johan de Nysschen, chief operating officer at Volkswagen observed, “The future of transportation will require more data connections and sophisticated analysis than ever before. We see our tool as an opportunity to provide cities with more usable data on mobility to help shape their future transportation needs, from pedestrians and vehicle drivers through to public transit.”

Jim Brainard, mayor of the City of Carmel added, “With enhanced software from Volkswagen, Carmel can more easily expand our view of traffic flow throughout the city. As we plan for public transportation needs in our future, our ability to capture more sophisticated information will help us make better decisions.”

The origins of the technology are not traffic-related but stemmed from a desire to improve manufacturing quality. Engineers at the Volkswagen EV manufacturing hub in Zwickau, Germany developed the software to be used in cameras for quality checks on vehicle assembly and in on-site logistics. It worked so well they decided to explore the other uses to which it could be put.

The system being set up in Carmel relies on existing camera infrastructure at intersections as well as information gathered from parking space use and pedestrian movement. Faces are blurred out, as are number plates, and unique individual vehicle movements are not tracked. The partners hope they can learn about emerging trends in multi-modal transport use as well as the more immediate information which will help traffic management on a daily basis or when dealing with less common circumstances such as big sporting events.

VW is in talks with other city authorities to trial similar systems in the future.

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