Commissioned by insurance company Direct Line, the Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) is a smart, interactive pedestrian crossing system developed by London-based software company Umbrellium, that prioritizes pedestrian safety, according to the company website. This week, the team installed a temporary full-scale prototype in South London to test the system's capabilities. The 72-foot-long installation demonstrated the durability of its infrastructure, carrying the weight of vehicles, as well as being able to differentiate between cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. By putting the prototype to the test, the company demonstrated that the system "reacts dynamically in real-time to different conditions and is able to modify the patterns, layout, configuration, size, and orientation of pedestrian crossings," while utilizing common traffic signs and pavement markings.
"This is about bringing pedestrian crossings up to speed with the rest of a modern-day city," said founding partner of Umbrellium Usman Haque in a release. "Pedestrian crossings as we know them were made for a different age, when the human relationship with the city was completely different."
The system monitors the entire road to detect movements and activities through computer vision technology. Computer-controlled LEDs embedded into the road's surface illuminate the digital screen that displays traffic signs and street markings during the late hours of the day, at nighttime, as well as in low visibility weather conditions. "If a person is distracted, looking down at their [cell phone], and veers too close to the road surface when a car is nearby, a warning pattern lights around them to fill their field of vision," noted the release. "The Starling Crossing is able to monitor and adapt to pedestrian desire lines over long term use so that, for example, if most people exiting a [subway] station end up walking diagonally across the road towards a park entrance, the crossing is able to reconfigure as a diagonal or even trapezoidal crossing, with corresponding safety buffer zones."
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