iHub geeks launch search for ‘intelligent’ traffic lights
Posted Wednesday, June 27 2012 at 19:49
- The iHub team wants to use motion sensors and upgrade these tools to tell the state of adjacent or opposite roads after the roundabout.
Elly Okutoyi lives in Parklands and works on Ngong Road in Nairobi. His major headache while going to work is the traffic jam. “Sometimes I feel like alighting and walking,” he says.
Mr Okutoyi represents thousands of Nairobi residents who detest the peak hours in the mornings and evenings but are unable to find a solution.
Because of the work schedules that force people to head to one direction during these hours, traffic jams are a permanent feature on the city roads.
Many tools have been tested but have come a cropper. One of the developments that has shown signs of success are the overpasses and underpasses on Thika Road, which is being upgraded to eight lanes in the drive to reduce traffic jams.
Other proposals floated include traffic cameras that stream on the Internet live pictures on designated junctions. However, the madness continues.
Geeks sitting by one of the roads notorious for the snail-speed traffic have been peeping through their windows and they do not like what they see.
iHub, one of the homes of technology specialists in Nairobi, has been busy for the last six months seeking to change the way traffic lights are used. They want to upgrade the lights to an intelligent system.
Pre-programmed lights at the roundabouts or junctions are one of the major problems, the team of researchers assembling the contraption says.
The iHub team wants to use motion sensors and upgrade these tools to tell the state of adjacent or opposite roads after the roundabout.
The iHub team lights will only allow cars moving into the direction with less traffic while those moving into gridlocks will be held longer. It will also help the motorists to take alternative lanes in time.
The police will not be required to manage the flow but will be expected to enforce discipline by ensuring none overlaps or changes lanes at will.
“We started hacking (developing) the system last Saturday, but the preparation has been ongoing for the last six months,” said Jesicca Colaco, iHub research lab manager and lead researcher.
The traffic “saviour” will be ready for testing on Ngong Road in the next three months.
The project financed by Ushahidi — a software developer — is a collaboration between iHub and the Fablab, based at the University of Nairobi.