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Why don't traffic lights work better?

The world’s first traffic lights were installed in 1868 – about 20 years before the modern car was invented.


Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Sciences


This talk and discussion explores why not everybody can always have a green light; why drivers always think that they could do a better job than the current system at controlling the lights; and how artificial intelligence research is helping traffic lights work more like the drivers think they should.

Why this is important

Traffic lights are necessary to maintain high levels of safety at junctions, but are one of the biggest causes of delays for vehicles. Better operation of traffic lights benefits everybody.

Key Descriptors

Road Transport; Traffic Lights; Artificial Intelligence

Year Groups



Dr Ben Waterson

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