Did you know that those of us who travel via road in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more in traffic than any other Asian cities during peak hours?
Yes, says a study commissioned by Uber and released by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
What if we told you that a student innovation could help change that?
Well, four Gurugram-based Class 11 students have developed an intelligent traffic light management system that could ease the congestion woes in our cities.
According to an India Today report, four students from the city-based Shiv Nadar School came up with the concept when they were asked to create a project that could tackle a real-life problem using technology.
And so, Om Shelat, Ira Sidhu, Soumya Juneja and Shreya Raju, built an intelligent traffic light that reacts to real-time traffic density using image processing and has the potential of reducing fleet time.
What earns the project a brownie point is also that it is compatible with the existing traffic lights, thus drastically cutting down costs and the time required for implementation.
It is the first of its kind innovation by students concerning Indian roads and traffic situation.
Speaking to India Today, the students speak about how they were already aware of the use of micro-controllers and image processing systems as part of their Robotics classes at school.
After researching on the current traffic light system, the students realised that most signals work on preset algorithms and timers. And while these algorithms and timers may be customised for each junction, they stay static once configured.
The students realised how the above mechanism isn’t effective, as the real-time traffic situation in any city or junction is never the same. It is always changing.
“This leads not only to a high amount of traffic congestion but a large number of traffic violators as well. We believe that to solve the problem of the entire city, we must solve the problem of the individual junctions,” one of the students, Ira Sidhu, told the publication.
When the students decided to create a smart traffic light that would work on real-time traffic, IT teachers at their school handheld them through the process from ideation to execution. The project was christened Intelligent Traffic Light Management System.
How does it work?
The system makes a simple change in the traffic light: it changes the nature of the response of the traffic system from reactive to proactive.
The components of the smart traffic light entail a high-quality, night-vision camera and a microcontroller. Both are used to calculate the real-time traffic in a lane and modify the red/green distribution time at each junction, dynamically.
The camera is connected to the pi microcontroller. Think of this pi-controller as the main brain of the entire system – the local processing unit.
The camera captures an image of the traffic lane every five seconds, which is processed by the pi microcontroller. Using a polygon mask, the unwanted areas in the image are cut out. What remains is only the image of the particular lane.
The intelligent traffic light system is also equipped with a ‘Canny Edge Detection Tool’ which then converts the picture of the lane into black and white pixels.
This helps to calculate the ratio of the white pixels (which represents all the vehicles in the lane) to the total number of pixels in the image.
This data is sent to the master who compares the data. Based upon which, it modifies the timer as well as light (red/green) at the traffic junction.
How has this innovation been received?
The student innovation won the fifth prize at the recent CSIR Innovation Award for School Children-2018. The award was bestowed to them by Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, and NITI Aayog member, Vijay Kumar Saraswat, at Vigyan Bhawan.
The students expressed their joy to India Today Education, saying, “We got an opportunity to interact with the dignitaries present at the ceremony, and they gave us valuable insights on our project. We feel extremely honoured and humbled to have received this appreciation from the highly credited Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, India.”
In addition to this, the innovation also won the Astitva Samman from the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The vision of the students is to implement the project in Gurugram with minimal investment. Discussions with some government officials are on about exploring the implementation of the innovative system.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)