Starting at the end of next year, some of Vienna's walk-light push-buttons will be disappearing from the city's pedestrian crossings. Instead, a new system will be trialled, that uses cameras and computers to visually detect when people wish to cross the road.

The new system is being developed by a team at Austria's Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), as part of a project that was commissioned by the City of Vienna.

It utilizes a crossing-light-mounted, computer-connected camera, which monitors an 8 by 5-meter (26 by 16-ft) area of the street. When someone enters that zone, custom-designed deep-learning algorithms analyze their motion path, determining within one second whether or not they intend to cross the road.

From there, the setup works with the city's existing traffic management system, determining how soon the walk light can be illuminated based on current traffic flow. Once that light does come on, it stays lit long enough for all the people detected by the camera to safely get across. On the other hand, if the system sees that someone has approached the crossing but then left, it will cancel the walk-light request.

The whole thing operates on-the-spot, with no pedestrian images being recorded or transmitted. It's also quite robust. "The system was developed in such a way that it can work round-the-clock even in a harsh environment and can also deal with voltage fluctuations," says TU Graz team member Horst Possegger.

Partnering traffic management company Günther Pichler will be installing the camera systems in place of the push-buttons, in select locations around Vienna. More may follow, depending on the results of the trial.

And perhaps not surprisingly, this isn't the first camera-controlled walk-light setup we've seen. Both Transport for London and the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building have previously developed systems of their own.

TechnologySource: TU Graz via AlphaGalileo