AI is helping avert traffic accidents by assessing the risk of car crashes at specific intersections.

What’s happening: MicroTraffic, a Canadian video analytics company, predicts the odds that accidents will occur at intersections that traditional methods overlook. More than 40 cities in Canada and the U.S. have used its analyses.

How it works: The usual approach to monitoring traffic safety identifies dangerous intersections based on crashes that already have occurred. Considering close calls brings previously unidentified trouble spots to light.

  • MicroTraffic uses computer vision to identify motor vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and scooters in traffic-cam videos. Its system flags moments when a vehicle came close to colliding with something. The algorithm grades risk based on speed, angle, and the types of vehicles and other objects involved.
  • The company provides city planners with data that show the rate of near misses at each intersection. The city, in turn, can mitigate risks by changing signal timing, adding signage, or redesigning the flow of traffic.
  • Canadian nonprofit Aviva is funding five cities to install the technology at busy intersections.

Behind the news: Commercial and government organizations are working on AI for traffic safety.

  • A Thai company installed face recognition systems inside its cars to detect signs of fatigue in drivers hired to travel on an accident-plagued highway. Affectiva, Bosch, Panasonic, and others have developed similar technology.
  • The Finnish city of Espoo put AI-powered lidar sensors inside a busy tunnel to measure vehicle speed, congestion, and stoppages.

Why it matters: Globally, motor vehicles kill 3,700 people each day. AI could help traffic engineers cut that grim tally.

We’re thinking: When your AI software crashes, take heart in the thought that AI is reducing crashes elsewhere.

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