Traffic lights could ‘vanish’ from the UK in next 20 years because of AI

Traffic lights on British roads could become a thing of the past if AI-powered self-driving cars take off, an engineer has claimed.

Following a two-year trial in London of Nissan self-driving vehicles, Smart Mobility Living Lab engineer Thomas Tompkin said there could be a "seismic shift in the way our roads are laid out".

The trial saw two driverless cars drive hundreds of times around a 2.7 mile-long route in Woolwich, south-east London.

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The electric Nissan Leaf cars utilised over 270 cameras along the route to predict potential hazards and avoid them.

Mr Tompkin said: "If we think aobut maybe 20 or 30 years time, can you start to then think about the infrastructure outside?

"Can you start to remove some of that infrastructure, such as traffic signals?"

"Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done before that ever takes place. But that's where you can start to see a seismic shift in the way our roads are laid out."

It costs around £1m per kilometre to roll out the high-tech road systems utilised by the trial, but Mr Tompkin believes that the infrastructure could be massively expanded using cheaper tech.

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The news comes amid a challenging time for 'self-driving' autonomous vehicles.

In the USA this week, Tesla announced a recall of more than 362,000 vehicles amid claims from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that its 'full self-driving' software is unsafe.

Tesla says it does not agree with the NHTSA's analysis but has said it will roll out an over-the-air downloadable software update for the affected vehicles 'out of an abundance of caution'.

The update will be released in mid-April.


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