In urban areas, more and more people are leaving their cars at home and instead taking public transport, walking or cycling to reach their destination. As vulnerable road users, they are particularly at risk in urban traffic: around 30% of all accident-related fatalities affect pedestrians or cyclists. Specific solutions for the protection of vulnerable road users not only ensure greater safety in urban traffic but also increase efficiency.

SWARCO, together with FLIR, has developed a solution for increased safety and efficiency at intersections and crossings. The idea is to attach appropriate cameras with heat sensors to signal heads to detect the presence of pedestrians or cyclists in a predefined area at the side of the road when crossing a road or intersection. Thereby, not only the mere presence of persons can be registered, but also the number of people as well as their approaching speed. The data from the sensor system are forwarded to a control unit which controls the signalling devices for all road users as required.

The intelligent use of traffic lights offers innovative solutions for road traffic and new opportunities for municipalities. Pedestrian detection and dynamic control of traffic infrastructure enables a safe traffic environment for pedestrians and cyclists while optimizing the flow of vehicle traffic.

A further advantage of such a solution for the protection of vulnerable road users is demonstrated in the case of Dachau, a city near Munich, Germany, where SWARCO has installed an intelligent traffic light in some streets. Controlling flow of pedestrians and cyclists provides assistance in the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a protective step to limit the spread of viruses and germs.

Citizens do not need to worry about data protection either: although the sensor technology records every person at the side of the road, the person’s identity remains secret. Since the solution is a heat-based recognition system based on body temperature, the cameras only capture outlines and not faces – identification is not possible. The system does not collect or store any data, thus ensuring the privacy of each road user.