Smart zebra crossing warns drivers about smartphone zombies
REMEMBER THE DAYS when Tufty the Squirrel would advise pedestrians to ‘stop, look and listen’ before crossing the road?
Those days are gone, and the ubiquitous ‘smartphone zombies’ have taken over, too engrossed in their phone screen to pay attention to the road. To enhance road safety, insurance company Direct Line has been working on a smart zebra crossing with a tech firm called Umbrellium.
The prototype, unveiled in Mitcham, South London, works by using lights to alert the driver of a pedestrian who may have walked out into the road unexpectedly. If movement is detected by two cameras placed at the crossing, a thick red line will light up across the road, giving the motorist prior warning of a potentially unaware pedestrian.
Performing like a traditional crossing, the dynamically changing detector responds in real time to pedestrians. The two cameras are able to record hundreds of different variables, monitor the 22-metre crossing and, if they detect a pedestrian, feed the information to the computer system in less than one hundredth of a second.
The road warning contains more than 660 LED lights, which can be programmed to change colour and create patterns to display different warnings.
Alerting drivers is not all the smart crossing can do. If lots of people are waiting to use the crossing, it has the ability to widen, giving pedestrians a broader path to walk across. Even cyclists will be alerted to smartphone zombies, receiving alerts when they’re hidden by high-sided vehicles.