California to Unveil New Adaptive Traffic Control System that Talks to Smart Cars


A new traffic control system that will replace several traffic lights in the city of Chula Vista, California will soon be deployed / Photo by


A new adaptive traffic control system will soon be deployed in Chula Vista, California, one that is expected to reduce congestion on the road and, incredibly, also connect with passing smart cars. Engineers are now working on the new system to get it up and running over the next few months.

The new system will replace several traffic lights in the city that have been operated by signal controllers, a technology used since the 1970s. The replacement is needed because the old technology and equipment cannot be integrated with the adaptive traffic control system.

"The whole point is for us to reduce delays, reduce travel times for people, for motorists, reduce air pollution as well. At the end of the day, the biggest, most important thing for us is to improve safety," said Eddie Flores, a traffic engineer for the city, in an interview with NBC San Diego.

About 170 obsolete traffic controllers are planned to be replaced with newer sensors and traffic cameras in the next few months. There are almost 30 intersections included in the initial replacement and each intersection has been selected based on its heavy traffic volume.

Each sensor is connected to real-time, interactive maps accessible by engineers in city offices to monitor traffic situation. Also, the tiny devices will constantly transmit data to the computers. The information gathered can be used to configure the traffic signal timing to decrease delays and the number of stops.

Aside from handling traffic situations, the new system will be able to communicate with self-driving vehicles, an important feature for test autonomous vehicles.

"A lot of the technology that's being developed for the autonomous vehicles can be used on current vehicles, or vehicles that are coming in the near future," Flores added during the interview.

Adaptive traffic control system has been deployed before in several cities in the US. For example, the InSync system developed by Rhythm Engineering features the capability to adapt according to the traffic demand. InSync is currently being used in more than 2,000 traffic signals in 31 states.